Aus Open: Nadal crashes to Verdasco in first round

Verdasco won the thriller 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in four hours, 41 minutes, to hand 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal only his second ever first-round defeat at a major tournament.

Rafael Nadal is consoled by compatriot Fernando Verdasco after his first round loss to the latter at the Australian Open.   -  AP

Rafael Nadal waves to the crowd as he leaves after losing his first round match against Fernando Verdasco.   -  reuters

Fernando Verdasco stunned Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open first round as the Spaniards played out another classic on Tuesday. In a rematch of their epic 2009 semi-final, Verdasco came out the victor with a remarkable 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win on Rod Laver Arena.

Verdasco had lost 14 of his previous 16 meetings against Nadal, but turned that around in some style at Melbourne Park. The loss, which came in four hours and 41 minutes, marked the first time Nadal has ever been knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open.

Nadal looked in control when Verdasco coughed up a break serving for the fourth set. Verdasco steadied to take out the tie-break, only to see Nadal break in the opening game of the fifth.

However, Verdasco's response came in the fourth game with a mishit forehand crosscourt winner to break back. The momentum had well and truly swung and Verdasco broke again in the sixth game, a crunching forehand winner followed by a Nadal error as he took a 4-2 lead.

Verdasco completed his win in fitting style, blasting a forehand crosscourt winner past Nadal. 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Verdasco bt Nadal [5] 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2

ACES

Verdasco - 20

Nadal - 7

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Verdasco - 90/91

Nadal - 37/38

BREAK POINTS WON

Verdasco - 5/15

Nadal - 6/16

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE

Verdasco - 61

Nadal - 64

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE

Verdasco - 72/45

Nadal - 69/50

TOTAL POINTS

Verdasco - 182

Nadal - 180