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December 11 02:05
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Nadal tripped up by Verdasco: Blue Clay the Culprit?

Dolgopolov upsets #4 Tsonga in 3


May 10, 2012 | 12:58 PM

A day that started with Tsonga and Dolgopolov exchanging dirty looks at the blue clay during their 3 setter - won by Dogman, 7-6 (2) in the 3rd - turned into a real drama when Verdasco, who'd losty all 13 of his previous matches with Nadal, came back from 2 - 5 in the 3rd to win 7-5. To come back in the 3rd Nando broke twice and fought off a match point on Rafa's serve. Dogman is now 3-2 with Tsonga, so their first match on clay was up for grabs. Both players frequently swatted at the blue stuff after losing their footing. Rafa appeared more sure footed, but his racquet and his nerves let him down.

Regardless of the reason for Rafa's failure here again this year, losing to Verdasco on clay makes a very different statement than losing to someone like Joker or to an aggressive player. Nando's baseline game hasn't matched up well with Rafa's, and the #15 seed rarely hurts Nadal by coming forward. In his 6 previous encounters with Rafa on clay, he was competitive only once, though he had never taken a set. Today he beat the #2 at his own game, something which nobody does on clay.

This result speaks more loudly than any further words Rafa can add: for upsetting the world order the blue clay will be deemed a BIG mistake.

If Joker, playing his first clay event of the year, is also upset by anyone but Roger - who is in his half - this sentiment will be even stronger. At least for this year, the blue clay needed more time to become fit for high level competition. It had neither before this event.

As for Rafa's half, in which the highest remaining seed is Berdych at #6, this means someone other than Rafa, Joker, Roger and Ferrer (also in Joker's half) will make the final of a 1000 clay event for the first time since Monte Carlo in 2010 when Verdasco lost to Rafa 6-0, 6-1.

In the early action between the top WOMEN today, Serena bested Wozniacki 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, and will face Sharapova in the quarters tomorrow. With #3 Kvitova out in their half, the highest remaining seed is Stosur at #5.

Madrid ATP, WTA highlights 7.10.12


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