It wasn’t a pretty match but it was a win Rafael Nadal desperately needed. He needed to squeeze through a tough match and beat Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 but what he didn’t need was to show everyone the full mental ramifications of the ‘Djokovic Effect’.
Sure Rafa’s had some injury issues which never helps a players confidence since Nole planted a seed of doubt in his mind earlier in the year on the American hard courts, Nadal has had difficulty closing out some tight matches. Since that seed blossomed it has become almost like poison ivy, crippling him in the Wimbledon final, stopping him from beating Ivan Dodig when he was in a leading position and caused him great difficulty against Verdasco.
Nadal needed five match points to close out the match, his shot selection sometimes poor as was his accuracy. Nadal’s winner to unforced error ratio after the three and a half hour match was appalling by his standards (24:41) but he was let off the hook by a somewhat edgy Verdasco who seemed equally unable, at times, to take the match on his own terms.
Nadal will play Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals who has been playing incredibly well. Interestingly Nadal then went out and played doubles with Marc Lopez and lost.
Nadal is looking for his first Cincinnati Masters and will have to lift his level to beat the in form Fish.