In a series of hot and happening events, right from the draw announcement at the Coachella Valley, the third round clash between the two Spaniards , Fernando Verdasco and Rafael Nadal looks set to unsettle.
A comfortable victory in the second round, fifth seeded Nadal progressed with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Pella, breaking his serve five times. Verdasco brushed aside Pierre Herbert 7-6(5), 6-1 to set up the all Spaniard match-up.
The battle of left handers promises big time entertainment for fans. The head to head is skewed towards Verdasco in the last 5 meetings, leading Nadal 3-2, two of them on hard courts, including the famous 5 set win in Melbourne last year. 2017 has seen Rafael Nadal in top form. His final appearances in Australian Open and Acapulco indicate not just form but also plenty of aggression on display.
The Last Encounter
They met at the same venue last year with the three-time champion winning 6-0, 7-6, and making it to the semi-finals later. The slower conditions at California always aid Nadal — suiting his heavy topspins and he has mostly been able to make it to the second week there. Verdasdco on the other hand has been good in flashes. His game follows a sine curve within a match, with peaks of commanding and dips of sloppy patches.
The odds, in the present scenario tilts in favour of Rafael Nadal, who has achieved a good combination of aggression and defence. He has been able to shift gears whenever needed, evident with his victories this year. Verdasco has to keep his top notch level throughout the match to have a chance against the fifth seed. How he unsettles Nadal with his aggressive forehands will be the key for him. Either an all aggressive or a clever mix of pace could keep Nadal off his rhythm, a defensive game is not likely to outlast one of the best defenders in the game.
Possible tactics against Nadal
Deeper returns to Rafa’s backhand wing could set up potential weak returns by him, which happens to come from a strong forehand wing of Verdasco. The options for Verdasco are not too many, but to try the tested methods of aggressive baseline returns. On the other hand, Nadal can always trust on his relentless defensive prowess as well as occasional attack. The backhand to the cross courts is working well, which is likely to open up the court.
With a potential 36th episode of Fedal in next round, fans would love to see Rafa winning. With big guns meeting early, courtesy to the draw, the tournament is set up for some spicy happenings.
The stage is set for a hot day in California and fans are in for a treat.
A great day with great matches awaits.
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