In a surprise exit, Rafael Nadal has been knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open, losing to countryman Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Despite Nadal leading 2-0 in the fifth set, Verdasco lifted his performance and won the last six games.
“He played better than me. He was more aggressive than me. He took more risks than me,” Nadal said after the defeat.
The entire match lasted 4 hours and 41 minutes with the upset leading many to question whether Nadal’s time at the top has come to an end. He is currently ranked No. 5 in the world who last won the Australian Open in 2009.
Knee injuries and lagging confidence seem to have taken a major toll on the former No. 1, who has 14 Grand Slam wins to his name.
On another court at the Grand Slam event, Australia tennis champ Lleyton Hewitt was on the winning side of the scorecard.
Hewitt took out his first round against fellow Australian James Duckworth in a three set victory, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “You know, I was pretty pumped up before I went on. You know, I think I was able to block out everything else once I was out there.”
Despite many ruling the 34-year-old as a serious contender for the tournament, Hewitt thinks he has what is needed to beat his next competitor Spaniard, David Ferrer.
“I give myself a fighting chance. It’s going to be tough, I know that. But I feel like I’m hitting the ball well enough to go out there and give him a good run.”
Hewitt, who is playing in his last ever Australian Open, and Ferrer will likely go head to head on Thursday night at Rod Laver Arena. Ferrer is the eighth seed in the tournament while Hewitt is ranked 308.
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