June 16 | 06

Rafael Nadal came through a nail biting three set encounter against compatriot Fernando Verdasco. The final result was 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(3).

Verdasco came out firing in the first set. Spraying forehand winners into both corners, there was little Nadal could do, and thus, Verdasco stormed to an early one set lead.
Nadal upped his level in the second set. Constantly under a barrage of forehand winners, Rafa was forced to save a break point at 3-3. The Mallorcan had a chance to serve for the second set, when he finally broke through the Verdasco serve at 5-5. Unfortunately, Rafa was unable to capitalise on two set points, and a failed drop shot lead to a tie break.

A punching volley gave Rafa the upper hand in the tie break, and at 6-3, Rafa took advantage of his fourth set point as Verdasco netted a backhand.

Under pressure early in the third set, Rafa had to save another break point. Nadal ceased the momentum to then break Verdasco's serve and take a 3-0 lead. Verdasco was not disheartened however, and at 2-2 applied pressure to the Nadal serve, forcing the Spaniard into errors. The two then exchanged breaks again and the match was levelled at 4-4. At 5-4, Nadal had his first match point, but some outrageous forehands from Verdasco ensured the match lasted just a little longer. Nadal had a second match point at 6-5, but another scintillating forehand from Verdasco plunged the players into a deciding tie break.

As with the second set, Nadal took control of the tie break early. At 6-3, the pressure was heaped on Verdasco, who could not bail himself out with another forehand winner. As his backhand sailed long, Rafa raised his arms in victory. In a match that lasted just over three hours, it was the French Open champion who lives to fight another day at the Stella Artois Championships. Go Rafa!

Written by: Kate Flory