Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco will be squaring off for the 17th time in their careers at the ATP level when they collide in round one of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 14-2, including 6-1 on hard courts. The two Spaniards most recently faced each other last summer on the clay of Hamburg, where Nadal dropped the first set but then rolled to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory. Check out the Nadal vs Verdasco H2H results.
While Verdasco’s two victories cannot be entirely discounted, they can be explained. The first one came when the Madrid Masters featured controversial blue clay in 2012. Verdasco took advantage of the circumstances to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. His next win came last spring at the Miami Masters via a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 decision. Nadal, of course, was nowhere near his real self throughout much of 2015–and he was especially poor in the early stages of the season.
Fast forward to 2016 and Nadal is clearly on his way back. In fact against anyone other than Novak Djokovic, you have to figure Nadal would have an outstanding chance. The world No. 5 posted two runner-up finishes last fall, to Djokovic in Beijing and to Roger Federer in Basel. He also went undefeated during round-robin action at the World Tour Finals (defeated Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, and David Ferrer) before falling to Djokovic in the semis. The 14-time major champion kicked off this season by reaching the Doha final, where–you guessed it–he lost to the top-ranked Serb.
The most memorable showdown between these two countrymen came at this same event in 2009, when Nadal won an epic five-set semifinal. Although Nadal is no longer at that level, Verdasco is even further from his prime. The 32-year-old registers at 45th in the world after going just 24-26 in 2015.
On paper this is a marquee matchup. In reality, it should be one-way traffic.
Prediction – Nadal in straight sets