Rafael Nadal faced a shock exit in the first round of Australian Open at Melbourne Park. He was defeated by Fernando Verdasco in a marathon turnaround, 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. It was a shock for most as Nadal was leading at one stage comfortably until Fernando creeped up from behind to turn the tables around.
It was nothing short of a thrilling first round which reminds one of the two clashing in the same intensity almost seven years ago. Fernando and Rafael had previously engaged in the longest Australian Open match in history lasting five hours and fourteen minutes, for a sport in the finals. This year history did repeat itself but this time, as opposed to the original epic, Nadal lost.
Nadal after the match was gracious enough to accept defeat and point out his faults, “I had my chances in the fourth set too, he played better than me. He was more aggressive than me. He took more risks than me”. Nadal pointed out, “You cannot be in the middle of being offensive and defensive”, which clearly could be seen on court as Nadal missed out on various opportunities.
This defeat in the first round of Australian Open was his second over first-ever exit at a major Grand Slam tournament. He had been at one point of time pitched closely with Roger Federer as one of the best in the world, however lately his performance has taken a dip, rather worryingly.
His career Grand Slam Record win-loss stats reads 198-30 while in contrast 2016 record reads 4-2. The win-loss ratio shows the kind of decline in Nadal’s performance. While some speculate that this should be counted as a one off upset for the Spaniard, others believe that he has not fully recovered from this injury.
Nicknamed, “King of Clay” has won nine of his Grand Slam titles on the clay courts of Roland where he has won five titles consecutively. It remains to be seen if Nadal can make a comeback.