Fernando Verdasco has been a mainstay in the ATP tour for almost 20 years, but his career seemed to be really fizzling out after the COVID break in 2020. He won only two matches in 2021, left the Top 100, and struggled with injuries. He started 2022 equally poorly, and even lost in qualifying this week against Pierre-Hughes Herbert. However, a stroke of luck saw him enter the draw as a lucky loser straight into the second round–he replaced #2 seed Diego Schwartzman, who had a first round bye.
Verdasco made the most of this opportunity and put up his best performance in a very long time against Pablo Cuevas, winning 6-2 6-3 on the back of a lot of his trademark powerful forehands. In the next round Verdasco now faces his compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the defending champion. The task won’t be an easy one, but also far from possible. If Verdasco can replicate the level he showed, he can absolutely beat Ramos and make a first semifinal appearance on the ATP Tour since Vienna in 2018.
He might be inconsistence from tournament to tournament, match to match, set to set, even point to point, but Verdasco’s staying power at ATP level has been remarkable. The Spaniard first reached the Top 100 in 2004 and didn’t leave it until 2021, because of injury. He spent the majority of that span in the Top 30 and featured in 65 Grand Slam main draws in a row. The streak ended at 2020 US Open–the first post-covid Slam.
He was a good player for a really long time, capable of beating top players on his day, but also of losing to much lower ranked player the following day. The question is whether at 38 his days as a top player are numbered. Judging by what he showed today, it’s quite possible that Verdasco still has life left at ATP level and will climb the rankings up again now that he’s recovered.
Fernando Verdasco on Madrid Wild Card Choices
The Spaniard seems to believe it too, and he’s very upset that he wasn’t given a wild card to Madrid. “I’m the number #1 player in Madrid for the last 17 years. Feli did everything to help me but they didn’t give me a wild card when I most needed.” Rather than playing the qualifying, Verdasco will go to the Challenger Tour event Aix En Provence to try and gain some points and climb up the rankings, so he can soon enter big events directly again. At 38 years old, it’s hard to predict Verdasco’s future. But he definitely seems to have the motivation and physical shape to go up the rankings and stay on the tour for a while yet. This week will be an excellent opportunity to start that climb.
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