Fernando Verdasco survived three match points against Janko Tipsarevic before he was able to book a place in the third round of the Australian Open.
In the fourth set the Serbian had three chances to close the match out as Verdasco seemed to fluctuate with his form in the match. Despite Tipsarevic’s at times inspired and brilliant play, the Spaniard came out on top, winning 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6, 6-0.
From the opening game of the match, Tipsarevic’s game plan was flawless. He confidently set up camp right on the baseline, refusing to relinquish any ground to his more powerful opponent and looked on as he made Verdasco run mercilessly.
Janko ran Fernando around the court in the opening set, breaking the Spaniard, who has struggled lately, twice to take a 5-1 lead. The Serbian underdog continued with the momentum and took the second set, saying later “I was playing really good in the beginning, aggressive, staying close to the line, but then when he started hitting, instead of trying to stay on the line I went back and even when I was winning games I did all the running.”
Verdasco’s forehand started to really penetrate, particularly at 3-2 when he started to really push the Serbian around the court and from there Verdasco seemed to slowly start taking control of the baseline.
Fernando may have had the momentum going into the fourth set but Tipsarevic wasn’t going away without a fight. Tipsarevic managed to get a 5-3 lead but dropped serve and Verdasco leveled the set at 5-5 but a series of errors saw Janko break back. Fernando then saved a second match point with a blinding forehand passing shot.
An inspired Verdasco pushed forward into the tiebreak, producing some deadly accuracy, overwhelming his opponent. Tipsarevic struggled against Verdasco’s power as seemed to struggle with his game before he fell away completely.
After the match Tipsarevic said he was suffering from cramps, a condition that can occur due to lack of condition, lack of fitness or dehydration. “Losing in the fifth set I don’t want the people to get the wrong impression, I didn’t tank, I didn’t lose on purpose, I didn’t mentally, you know, have a mental meltdown. It was just that I was feeling completely dead and tired physically.”
Tipsarevic obviously felt the need to defend his performance after Verdasco was asked in his press conference if he felt his opponent was really trying in the fifth set.
Q. Two sets to love down, what was your strategy?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: Well, just he was playing really good and aggressive, so I just tried to be a little bit more aggressive with my serve, with my forehand. Also trying to get the timing at the return to try to put a little bit more put him a little bit more in trouble with his serve.
Well, you know, keep fighting all the time, because I was really close to lose today. I think that just my mentality was the key, one of the biggest key today to come back.
Q. When he took the medical timeout did that give you added confidence?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: Well, if I’m honest, not so much, because, you know, I really play I was really focus on myself and just coming back the fourth set two times that he had he served to close the match. And the tiebreak, you know, playing like really good for me gave me a lot confidence.
I saw him also a little bit tired, even I knew that he was tired a little bit in the end of the fourth set, even if he didn’t take that medical timeout. But of course when you saw that your opponent is taking a medical, then you try to push a little bit more to take a quick advantage in the beginning of the next set.
Q. Did you feel he was trying in the fifth set?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: He was trying?
Q. Was he?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: Well, I think that I don’t know. This is question I think that he must answer, not me, no? I think that he was tired; he got the medical right after the first game. After that, I didn’t see him moving really good. I don’t know if it was so much pain what he have or not. I think he’s the only one who knows that.
So I was trying to don’t push the brake, keep pushing the gas and going in the fifth set the same that I was playing the tiebreak in the fourth set.