Melbourne: Fernando Verdasco stunned World No.5 Rafael Nadal 7-6(6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in the first round of the Australian Open here on Tuesday.
Nadal took a 2-0 lead in the fifth and deciding set. But Verdasco reeled off the last six games to claim a memorable victory in four hours and 41 minutes.
It was sweet revenge for Verdasco who lost at the end of a five-hour, 14-minute marathon against Nadal in the semi-finals of the tournament in 2009 on the very same court — Rod Laver Arena.
Verdasco hit 90 winners on Tuesday, including 41 off his forehand, to move through to the second round of Australian Open 2016. Verdasco forced 54 errors from Nadal, 37 among them from his forehand.
It was Nadal’s earliest Australian Open exit in 11 appearances, and is only the second opening round loss in his Grand Slam career.
“I was just closing my eyes and everything went in!” Verdasco said after the match.
“In the fourth set I started serving better than the second and third. He started playing less deep and strong. I started coming inside the court, being aggressive and it went well.
Verdasco wil play Dudi Sela of Israel, a 6-1 6-3 2-6 6-2 winner over German Benjamin Becker earlier on Tuesday, in the next round.
“Winning against Rafa in five sets here, coming from two sets to one down, is an unbelievable feeling.”