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Shanghai Masters: What is in the head of Fernando Verdasco? – SportsUntapped.com
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Added October 11th, 2010 by Jonas

Shanghai Masters: What is in the head of Fernando Verdasco?
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Tennis is about belief. About believing in your ability to win matches, to pass tests where you are not really your best. It took Spaniard Fernando Verdasco some time to show the world he could compete with the absolute best, to win that belief. But when he plays with it, he is one of the most exciting players on tour with those killer groundstrokes of his.

Lately that belief has been lost on him. After the quarterfinal in the US Open he has lost four straight matches. It is hard to say why, his play shows flashes of brilliance, but as soon as the points are slightly more important that belief is gone and he goes down.

It is a sad sight. If you ever competed in anything and especially such an extremely mental sport like tennis you know how it feels when you just can’t turn the tide and find just about the right amount of confidence to win the most important points. It is awful. And it is kind of awful watching Verdasco right now.

You’ve got to feel for the guy. He had a miserable Asian tour with three straight losses and he gets a pretty shitty draw in Shanghai going up against the talented Dutch youngster De Bakker who, as all young tennis players, are hungry for top player blood. Not a great match-up for the Spaniard.

The first set is not pretty. The players rely on serve and although there are some good moments, there is this feeling that this match will be about hunger, not about tennis skills.

De Bakker soon proves he is the hungrier and more confident player, winning the first set tie-break seven points to four.

But Verdasco shows us the kind of quality player he is in the start of the second set, starting to hit winners of both wings and he quickly advances to a 3-1 lead. He holds that lead all the way up to 5-4. He is serving for the set. Obviously a key moment.

Verdasco’s famous nerves kick in. This is the guy who a few years ago could double-fault away whole games due to pressure. De Bakker is in fighting mood, he knows he can takes this in two. All he needs is a break.

And De Bakker gets it. Verdasco breaks down and De Bakker breaks him. It is now 5 all in a set that Verdasco has been leading all along. Not a great situation for man with damaged confidence.

De Bakker holds serve and then manages to break Verdasco to net himself a nice upset 7-6 7-5. Congrats to him and commiserations to Verdasco. I hope he can fight off those bad beat demons and get back to form. The game of tennis deserves it.

By the way, you have to admire Rafael Nadal who looks stronger than ever. He plays more all-round tennis, he serves better, he goes to the net occasionally and shortens points by flattening out the ball. No wonder he won Tokyo and he is my favorite for Shanghai.

This is the guy that could break Federer’s seemingly impossible Grand slam record. I wouldn’t be that surprised if he did.

 
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