Match Review: Fernando Verdasco v Denis Kudla

It was a drizzly second day of action at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships as the fifth seed Fernando Verdasco took on the home favourite qualifier Denis Kudla in the second match on Center. The result ended up being quite the upset as Verdasco struggled with the conditions and Kudla got the big 6-4, 7-6(7-4) win to secure his spot in the second round. Overall, this was not a good match from Verdasco as the errors were very present on an inconsistent forehand, he struggled to finish points in the heavy conditions and he constantly changed his serve from aggressive to safe which didn’t help for rhythm. This was not a perfect match from Kudla as he was still hitting quite a few errors and did have his games of weakness but in the end, he was smart tactically by constantly extending the rallies and could whip the forehand well.

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Set 1

It was a positive start from Fernando Verdasco as he had a lot of confidence and didn’t miss a single first serve in his opening game as Denis Kudla seemed to be nervous and struggle with the heavy amounts of spin as he was broken early on for 0-2. Kudla managed to recover quickly as he got used to the different opponent and started whacking his forehand as well as showing off his good defence from both wings while Verdasco started to make poor errors and Kudla secured the break back for 2-2. The two then exchanged service holds as they added some aggression into serving but then came the longest game of the match at 3-3, which saw Kudla keep extending the rally until the Verdasco errors came to set up breakpoints. It took Kudla his fourth to get the break as he seemed a bit nervous on some of them but the American backed it up with a dominant hold and then he showed his retrieval skills to secure a set point at 5-3 but he got nervous and Verdasco saved it before holding serve. Eventually, Kudla overcame those nerves and stayed patient in the rally to hold for the 6-4 set.

Set 2

Denis Kudla struggled early on this set as he made some loose errors really had to fight to try and find some sort of base level just to hold serve for 1-1. It only got worse as Fernando Verdasco identified he was struggling and upped the aggression levels by stepping into the court after a serve more frequently. Eventually, the break for Verdasco came at 1-2 after Kudla lost a 40-0 lead with a double fault and bad errors and from duece, he hit a smash and a forehand into the net and the game was gone. Things were slipping away from Kudla quickly as his errors come more consistently, but then when trailing 1-4 he switched his mindset and reverted to hanging in the rally which was successful as Verdasco eventually hit two double faults in a row after Kudla ripped a forehand winner to secure the break. The fight was on from 4-4 as Verdasco got a good hold by winning some long rallies and after Kudla overpressed in the next game Verdasco had a set point. The American played a measured aggressive point to save set point and then went on to hold for 5-5. The two then exchanged holds of serve with both hitting some aggressive forehands and a tiebreaker was forced. The tiebreaker was odd because the returner won the first five points before Verdasco made some costly errors that he couldn’t recover from and Kudla hit a clutch ace to set up the match point he took for the 6-4, 7-6(7-4) win.

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