Rafael Nadal suffered his first round-one exit at the Australian Open as Fernando Verdasco recorded a stunning five-set win at the Melbourne Park.
The Spanish left-handers produced an exhibition of hard-hitting to thrill those inside the Rod Laver Arena over four hours and 40 minutes.
Verdasco saved a break point to prevent going 3-0 down in the decider, going on to win 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 7-6 (4-7) 6-2.
He is now to play agianst Israel’s Dudi Sela after hitting 90 winners and winning six straight games to clinch victory over fifth seed Nadal.
“I played unbelievably in the fifth set,” said Verdasco, 32. “I don’t know how I did it. I closed my eyes and everything went in.”
Verdasco, beaten by Nadal in the semi-finals in 2009, showed grit to stay in touch when his compatriot threatened to dominate.
At 2-2 in the decider, a glorious forehand – packed with the type of power he had showed throughout the contest – put Verdasco ahead and the would number 45 never looked back.
Source: BBC Sport