Lothario Verdasco Tops Murray at Australian Open
by Staff | January 26th, 2009, 10:09 am

Murray, Blake Lose; Roddick v Djokovic Today at Australian Open

Refusing to blame an illness he’d been battling for the last few days, or the pressure of being anointed a favorite without even a Slam title to his credit, Andy Murray exited the Australian Open with grace on Monday after losing a see-saw 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 slugfest with hot-handed Spaniard Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco.
With a load of confidence after coming off winning the Davis Cup to end 2008 )and dating Ana Ivanovic to begin 2009), Verdasco served huge and also employed some indirect advice from Spanish countryman and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“I just saw something that he said, I think yesterday or two days ago in the press conference,” Verdasco told reporters. “They ask him about my match, and he said I should take the forehand and try to move him and try to take the rhythm of the match.”

Murray said the loss could not be attributed to any mounting pressure, but to the play of Verdasco, who not only showed his powerful repertoire of serving and crunching forehands, but a deft touch with dropshots, slices and lobs to keep the Brit on the move.

“I don’t feel that was the reason why I lost,” Murray said of his favorite status. “I definitely did have my chances, and he played too well. I’m disappointed that I lost. But I’ll try and learn from it. It’s not a disaster. I’m still playing well. I lost to a good player in a very close match. I’ll have more chances to win Grand Slams.”

Nadal was another Spaniard into the quarters after crushing No. 13 seed Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Two Frenchmen, No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 6 Gilles Simon also advanced, with Tsonga straight-setting American James Blake, and Simon proclaimed the victor when countryman Gael Monfils retired after three sets with a wrist injury.

“Well, you never want to win like this,” Simon told reporters. “It’s already strange when it’s another player, but when it’s a friend like Gael it’s more difficult.”

Tsonga and Verdasco will next square off, and Nadal will face Simon, who last year beat him on hardcourts at the Masters Series-Madrid.

Scheduled for Tuesday in men’s quarterfinal play are (7) Andy Roddick vs. (3) Novak Djokovic who are not exactly near the top of the friends list on either’s Facebook pages, and (8) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (2) Roger Federer.

Serena, Kuznetsova Get Free Passes at Injury/Illness-ravaged Aussie Open

Serena Williams was the beneficiary of a retirement from Victoria Azarenka on Monday at the Australian Open, with the American trailing 3-6, 4-2 when the Belarussian was forced to quit due to dizziness and illness. Azarenka said she was vomiting that morning with a fever, and was diagnosed with a virus, helped off the court in tears by medical trainers.

“The doctors didn’t want me to keep going, but I wanted to keep trying and see how I do,” Azarenka told reporters. “But it was probably not a very good idea because it just gave me even more trouble after.”

Williams will next face No. 8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, another illness/injury beneficiary Monday, who moved into the quarterfinals when No. 22 Jie Zheng of China retired in the first set with a wrist injury.

“Only the strongest are blessed,” Kuznetsova, who led 4-1 in the first set when Zheng retired, told reporters. “You know, the saying? We say it in Russian…I was winning. It was no problem. I felt great. Either way for me was good. But I felt sorry for her because she was in great shape. She was playing good. This pain I hope is not very dangerous.”

Actually completing matches Monday were No. 4-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva who overcame a nervous start to roll over No. 18 Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2, and unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro, who continued her breakout run with an easy 6-3, 6-2 win over fellow Spaniard and No. 22 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues.

Now Dementieva will face the heavy ground game of the 20-year-old Suarez Navarro.

“I think she’s a very tough player,” Dementieva told reporters. “She plays a very unique style of game. A lot of spin. It’s gonna be a tough match.”

Scheduled for Tuesday in women’s quarterfinal play are (16) Marion Bartoli vs. (7) Vera Zvonareva, and (3) Dinara Safina vs. unseeded Australian hope Jelena Dokic.


Until today, Andy Murray had won his last five 5-set matches, and 11 of 12 sets over Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard Verdasco has won four of his last five 5-setter…

Think Roger Federer is happy about having to wait out the Dinara Safina-Jelena Dokic match?…

Novak Djokovic is back on court about 36 hours after beating Marcos Baghdatis. His opponent, Andy Roddick, gets about 45 hours of rest. Fair? Sounds like the US Open all over again…

Proof the numbers don’t lie, Andy Murray’s loss kept alive the Open Era streak of never having all Top 8 seeds in the QFs of a Slam. Someone had to lose, and it was Murray…

Rafael Nadal is the lone player on the men’s side without losing a set. He did the same thing last year en route to the semifinals…

Frenchman Gilles Simon has reached his first career Slam QF after his countryman Gael Monfils retired for the 7th time in his career…

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has won all five sets over James Blake…

Fernando Verdasco getting tips from Andre Agassi? True story. Verdasco credits Agassi for helping getting his head straight over the off season…

With temperatures in the 100s Tuesday, Juan Martin del Potro has to happy about playing at night. Federer would probably have loved to get the injury-prone Argy in the heat of the day…

It’s always amazing how players who are sick or allegedly sick only retire when they start losing. Add Victoria Azarenka to that list…

Speaking of the sick list, how many times has Novak Djokovic summoned the trainer since Andy Roddick called him out at the US Open? He’s definately cut back…

Juan Martin del Potro is the only undefeated male player on the year…

At 27, Roger Federer is the oldest singles player in the tournament. He’s 7-0 in sets vs. Del Potro and he hasn’t lost a Slam QF since 2001…

Juan Martin del Potro has two more Grand Slam wins that Roger Federer has Grand Slam titles…

Novak Djokovic has won 19 of his last 20 matches against American players…

Can you name the last time Andy Roddick beat a Top 10 player in a Grand Slam?…

Temperatures in Melbourne are forecasted to blast off staring Tuesday well into the 100s…

EVERYTHING’S CHEAPER IN CHINA — More U.S. manufacturing jobs are headed overseas as Dutch-based Head NV Group, parent company of the Head and Penn, announced they will close their Phoenix, Ariz., factory in March and move it to China. An administrative office will reportedly remain in Phoenix.

Tennis Australia says Jelena Dokic’s father, Damir, would not be given the accreditation necessary to sit in the players’ box for her next match…

COACHING QUANDRY — The Grand Slams don’t allow the WTA Tour’s on-court coaching — which would have been a huge benefit to world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in her meltdown against Marion Bartoli. But isn’t that the beauty of it? If the player can’t right their own ship, tough luck. The fragile Jankovic deserved to lose that match, and it would have been a slight to the mentally-stronger Bartoli if Jankovic were allowed a coach to come on court and “fix her.” Let tennis remain a battle of two players.

Ana Ivanovic is reportedly close to deciding on her much-needed new coach…

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31 Comments for Lothario Verdasco Tops Murray at Australian Open

andrea Says:

interesting. nadal is looking on fire. but now simon and tsonga are lurking – both who have beat him.

MMT Says:

Nadal has quietly carried the #1 seeding and ranking with aplumb, and I don’t see Simon beating him. I think he has a big psychological advantage over Verdasco and Tsonga as well. Verdasco will forever be in his shadow and Tsonga will try too hard to vindicate last year’s victory, as he did in Indian Wells.

On the other side, it’s looking like the best match up is Roddick Djokovic, and on Roddick’s form you have to say he’s in with a chance, but I feel Djokovic is a better player and will win the important points and take the match.

Federer JPMD is the big question mark – if he plays as he did against Berdych, I don’t see him getting past the Argentine, but he had a match like Berdych at the US Open, and the struggle gave him a big boost. This one is a toss up.

jane Says:

I am happy to read that Murray is taking the loss in stride; and so he should. It’s NORMAL for players to lose now and again, and there is no need to write off a player or chide him or whatever. Sometimes, the other guy just plays better.

Based on match play / scorelines, Nadal and Roddick seem like the most on-form players. But wins are near impossible to predict, as we saw last night. I am just going to sit back and enjoy these quarterfinal matches, and may the best man (and woman) on the day win!

sar Says:

The British press will either kill Murray or themselves. LOL

Guess Fed and Djok are laughing at Murray’s crystal ball right now.

jane Says:

sar, I suspect (though I may be wrong here) that a few Brits will revert to calling Murray a Scot.I hope not though!

IMO Murray deserves/deserved the hype. He’s been slaying giants left, right and centre since the end of last year. And it was the bookies and pundits who perhaps overshot their mark by giving Murray props, even over the top three – not Murray himself. Murray only said he’s earned the right to be considered amongst the elite – and he has. He’s number 4 in the world after all.

The point some people should take from this loss is that we really *can’t* easily pick a winner these days. I know you would love to see Novak defend his title, and frankly so would I as I don’t want to see him lose a whack of points. But there are so many good players right now, and so many potential winners, that it’s really difficult to say what is going to happen. All of the quarter-finalists, imo, have a shot (some longer than others maybe but…). That’s pretty cool.

margot Says:

Having seen Tsonga play and, if he stays fit, I’d say he has a fine chance. He’s a wonderful talent.
As a Brit, I’m sad of course to see Murray out but his time will come. He looked very de-energised today and his second serve needs serious fixing, whereas Verdasco’s serve was brilliant.
Nadal and Federer to go through with Tsonga and Roddick. I’m sticking my neck out here and I’m waiting for it to be chopped off!

MMT Says:

Margot – I think the Roddick pick is a gutsy one, and I disagree. I think Djokovic is a better player, and his serving in tight situations gives him an edge in my opinion. Tsonga Verdasco will be interesting. If Verdasco can stretch it to 5 sets, I think his fitness is superior to Tsonga’s and he’ll take it. Anything less than 4 sets, I see Tsonga going through. Nadal is a no brainer, no matter how tough Simon is. Federer JMDP is a toss up.

Leftykick Says:


Watch your neck.
I wouldnt rule out a repeat of last years final as things stand now. I sense a Federer upset against JMDP and Nadal dropping his first set against Simon…

Murrays problem is the fair-weather British tennis fans wont give him any credit until he wins Wimbledon let alone any other Grand Slam.

that_matt Says:

I’m hoping for either a Djok/Fed vs Nadal final. We’ve never seen those 3 in a hardcourt final against each other. It’s about time we get them playing for the trophy on hardcourt of a Major. They are more reliable for great and consistent points than the rest of the field. So you know you’ll get a good match.

that_matt Says:

**Correction** i said “We’ve never seen those 3 in a hardcourt final against each other.” .. I just mean in a Grand Slam, for clarification

tennisity Says:

“fair-weather British” is an accurate description, and not just regarding Murray.

I like tennis bullies Says:

the choke heard around the world… roger federer has now beaten two journeymen and two of the flakiest wastes of talent known to man…

rafael nadal has now murdered four players in broad daylight, no arrests have been made…

andy murray, he of the big four and favorite to win the title just got beat by a mental headcase, failing the first test he was handed at a slam…

tennisx staff on suicide watch should roddick beats djokovic in the qrts then they will pretend this never happened…

I have clay in my pants Says:

how long into the season will rafael “i want to scratch my ass” nadal’s knees hold up?

a) as soon as he loses his next hard court match

b) after 2 losses

c) he will wait till end of clay season

d) he always plays injured.

jane Says:

Hi that_matt! Long time no see you around here. Just to point out a slight correction, we did see Djokovic and Federer play in a Grand Slam final at the USO in 2007. However, we also saw a choke. I think if Djoko ever gets to play Fed in a GS final again it’ll be tighter.

Giner Says:

I read Murray’s post match interview and I agree that he handled it with class. He’s matured a lot since he was 18.

“COACHING QUANDRY — The Grand Slams don’t allow the WTA Tour’s on-court coaching — which would have been a huge benefit to world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in her meltdown against Marion Bartoli. But isn’t that the beauty of it? If the player can’t right their own ship, tough luck. The fragile Jankovic deserved to lose that match, and it would have been a slight to the mentally-stronger Bartoli if Jankovic were allowed a coach to come on court and “fix her.” Let tennis remain a battle of two players.”

When your coach comes on court, does the opponent get to eavesdrop on the coaching advice? Because this might create for some interesting drama if they could. I saw it used on TV before, and the cameras were on the player and coach, listening in on everything being said, even though the coach tries to speak softly so others don’t hear.

MMT Says:

Good point Jane – I really feel the Djoker gave away the US Open final in 2007, but he got his revenge in Australia. On a side-bar, I still can’t understand why the media are so cool to his chances. He came closer to beating Rafa on clay than anyone last year, and beat him handly in Cincinnati before losing to Murray in the final, and Federer didn’t look great against Berdych, so where’s the love.

Personally I think he’s still suffering from the negative impact of his diatribe against Roddick last year in New York, and the lingering resentment towards his family who are (thankfully) absent from his box this year. I would ask where they are, but I’d prefer not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Giner Says:

“Guess Fed and Djok are laughing at Murray’s crystal ball right now.”

Did Murray actually get ahead of himself? What did he say? He seems kind of modest, so I would assume he was only ‘aspiring’ to win a Slam, not actually assert that he will.

“andy murray, he of the big four and favorite to win the title just got beat by a mental headcase, failing the first test he was handed at a slam…”

I’d say the first test was the US Open 08, not this one. Perhaps the second test was Davydenko at TMC, though that wasn’t a Slam.

Ra Says:

Murray handled it with class? How can that be when he never once referred to Verdasco by name but only as “he” and “the guy” ? No, I’m just making a point…

I do think Murray handled his interview very well, and I hope Verdasco can keep up his level of play so that him taking out Murray won’t just be a total waste for us as spectators.

jane Says:

LOL Ra – point taken.

Danica Says:

“Novak Djokovic has won 19 of his last 20 matches against American players…”

And yet, that one loss came from Roddick.

Noel Says:

“……I still can’t understand why the media are so cool to his(Nole’s) chances…..”

Yeah,I have been surprised as well. Maybe,because the focus has been on Murray-and deservingly so- due to his excellent second half last year and his wins over Fed esp the recent ones in the gulf. So much so that even Nole’s TMC victory-a very significant one-was not given the importance that it deserved. The fact that he didn’t meet/beat either Fed or Murray- combined with Rafa’s absence there-probably took off some sheen although it was unfair because he couldn’t do a thing about it. His losses in the tourneys leading up to the OZ open and the much-hyped problems-real or imagined-with the new racquet ensured that he wasn’t taken that seriously despite the fact that he is the defending champion and the first winner on that new surface. In fact, I think even Rafa hasn’t got the attention he deserves as the top seed and world number one. It could possibly be due to his absence from the tour and his loss to Monfils recently. There has been too much talk-or wish- of a Fed-Murray final which probably wasn’t justified imo given the inconsistent form Fed has shown after the USO win.

I actually thought that it’d be a Nole-Murray final with Murray just about the favourite to take it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Nole retained his title. This was when the draw came out. Having watched the action-and the hot weather- over the past week or so,I am not so confident anymore. I think Rod has a decent chance of beating Nole even though Nole has a much better all-round game. I’d normally pick Nole without any hesitation but I just get the sneaking feeling that the heat could have a bearing on the outcome esp if the match is long. Had it been an evening match,Nole would have been my clear favourite despite the fact that Rod has looked in very good touch. If Rod gets past Nole,he has a very good shot at reaching the final imo.

I agree with your “toss up” between Fed and JMDP simply because Fed still has the same issues-esp the return game- that he had last year and JMDP is a very solid player at the moment. Had it been a day match,I’d have picked Fed but the night match probably neutralizes Fed’s edge a bit.
We could still end up having a Nole-Fed sf but I am not as sure as I was before the Open started.

Rafa has looked unstoppable so far and should advance to the final in keeping with his trend of taking one step further each year although it appears as if he’d take two steps this time. It will take a really massive effort to beat him and only Nole seems to have the game to take him on at the moment now that Murray is out. The fact that the final is an evening start should help Nole provided he is not too exhausted from his qf and sf efforts. A fit and healthy Tsonga could stand a chance of beating Rafa if he is able to get past the hot Verdasco and even he will have to try to blast Rafa off the court the way he did last year and I will be surprised if he manages an encore. Simon is probably plotting to grind Rafa out in an absolute marathon/epic but that also appears to me to be an extremely remote possibility. I don’t think I have seen Rafa appear this formidable on a hard court and he appears to be on his way to his first hard slam title. He looks to be in the absolute prime of his career.

As for Nole’s family,I agree that his parents ticked a lot of people off and it didn’t help Nole and his image at all. I think Nole was a bit embarrassed by their conduct although I loved the fiery fist pumps of Nole’s youngest brother last year. He has got to get his mind/temperament right and I like his attitude after his early wimby loss although he did get involved in that unnecessary incident at the USO. He has enough game to beat anyone on most surfaces. He can learn a bit from Murray who has impressed me with his newly-found maturity and willingness to work really hard. He took his loss to Verdasco very well and didn’t make any excuses although his illness must have been a slight factor at the very least. It reminds me of Fed’s attitude/temperament issues before he transformed himself within a very short period. Murray seems to have done something similar and I am sure the really big results will come sooner than later.

jane Says:

Hi Noel!

Happy New Year to you.

I totally agree with your assessment of Novak vs. Roddick. I think an evening match might’ve favored Novak but now that it’s scheduled to be played in the late afternoon, when it’s often very hot, I give the edge to Andy also. Roddick has been playing VERY well. Why people don’t see it as a 50/50 encounter is surprising to me, esp. when one takes into account all of the variables. Novak almost always plays better in the evening. This is a trend. For example, when he was ousted at Wimbledon, it was a cool & windy day.

I will be very, very happy for Roddick if he makes a slam final, and maybe even wins it all. He works hard, he’s so consistent, thus he deserves it in many ways.

I am inclined to agree with you on Rafa though too. He has looked the strongest of the top four guys anyhow, and weirdly he has received the least attention. I think he’s my favorite to win the title, because once he smells a trophy, he’s awfully difficult to stop, although it remains really hard for me to make any kind of predictions!

that_matt Says:

Hi jane, thanks for reminding me about the novak vs fed USO 07 final! … Sort of amazed I forgot about that.

I’m looking forward to the roddick/novak match , I don’t have hopes like you do that there’s a 50/50 chance for either player. But if that’s the case, all the better.

I seroiusly want either novak or fed vs nadal in the final. I want one of them to be the reason the other doesn’t win a slam. Mo Drama, Mo Rivalry

PP Says:

“It’s always amazing how players who are sick or allegedly sick only retire when they start losing. Add Victoria Azarenka to that list…”

Now that’s just not fair. The poor girl was close to collapse when she left the court (and had to be aided by two people to make it back to the locker room). It was clearly a case of her starting to lose the set because of her illness, rather than retiring with illness because she was ONE break down in the second set (Having won the first set easily…) She couldn’t even walk straight, let alone continue playing tennis…

jane Says:

Well that_matt, I simply think Roddick is playing really well. I don’t wish for Novak to lose a bunch of points, and Roddick has already bettered his results from last year, so from a purely long term perspective, I’d like Novak to win and also prove his doubters wrong. However, that said, I followed Roddick long before Novak was even on the scene, and I’ve seen him denied by Fed way too many times in Grand Slam scenarios, so to see him hoist the trophy would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, perhaps esp. if he took out Fed along the way, in a kind of friendly fire / payback match. ;-)

jane Says:

I agree with PP!!!!! Azarenko WON the first set and was only down 1 break in the second. She was *taking it* to Serena. This retirement made me saddest of all because she had a shot at an upset and she knew it, you could see it in her game, and her reluctance to retire. She tried to play even though she looked like she was about to faint. That comment is totally unfounded.

Noel Says:

Hi Jane,
A very happy new year to you too!
Yeah,it is not easy making predictions with so many players playing well at the same time and the weather/scheduling coming into equation. It is ironic that I am saying it now in the middle of the event but I actually thought after the draw that the top four will certainly make the sf. In fact,all the top seeds- except Murray- have made it to the qf and I expected that too. I had reservations only about Tsonga and that too because of his suspect back before the event started. It is remarkable that it has gone so much according to the seedings. We really have a strong top group at the moment.It also helped that the draw was pretty much evenly balanced-more or less- to start with.

Of course I’d like Fed to win but I won’t grudge Rod his win if he does go on to beat Fed after beating Nole although Jmdp won’t be an easy sf opponent either. Personally,I’d like Tsonga to go all the way if Fed is knocked out earlier but Tsonga appears an unlikely winner at the moment. He really will be a very popular champion. I know you’d dearly want Nole to win but I will join you-and esp Von-in celebrating Rod’s title win if it does eventually happen. He really needs a boost at this point in his career and it’d be an appropriate reward for his great attitude and hard work.

tennismonger Says:

C’mon Roddick – now or never – step it up like we know you can – now’s your time – your whining opponent has too huge reasons to pack it in – searing heat & an ill-advised racket change. Make him sorry he took to the court & dare him to make excuses after the last shot is struck!

John Says:

Murray needs to go away and have a serious re-think after this loss. Watching the match it struck me just how Murray was totally passive and dominated from the back of the court. He hit 90% of his forehands cross court with a load of topspin and no penetration. He very rarely ever hits his forehand big down the line so Verdasco just camped out and hit his big forehand from his backhand corner.

These kind of passive tactics do often work in the smaller tournaments where players often arent motivated or focussed. At this level though it isnt good enough because eventually you will run into someone like Verdasco who hits the ball big and doesnt miss.

He should go back to the drawing board and have a real think about his tactics and his general negative mindset when on court. He needs to start hitting out with his shots and dominating people. He may have to get worse before he gets better. He may lose a few matches this spring but long term it will be good for him. One thing im certain of is that the Murray thats playing the game at the moment with his looped forehands and general negative play will never win a Grand Slam. No chance.

TD (Tam) Says:

“It’s always amazing how players who are sick or allegedly sick only retire when they start losing. Add Victoria Azarenka to that list…”

She won the first set before she had to retire in the second. Can tennis-X ever get their facts right?

“Speaking of the sick list, how many times has Novak Djokovic summoned the trainer since Andy Roddick called him out at the US Open? He’s definately cut back…”

Robredo was the first to call Djokovic out on his injury time outs at USO last year and was far harsher than anything Roddick said.

Good luck to Andy in his match with Novak tonight!!!

margot Says:

Well, my neck’s safe right at this moment with Roddick and Federer through! Rafa’s a pretty safe bet the way he’s been playing, though Simon has a most elegant game and is great to watch, though he’s yet another player who needs to improve his serve. In the men’s game you just gotta get yourself some free points.
My hope is that Tsonga will come through. Is he not the most exciting player out there?

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