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Date TimeJuly 03, 2019
VoiceSix years after hauling Andy Murray to the brink of defeat in the quarter-finals of the tournament in which the Scot ended 77 years of British misery at Wimbledon, Fernando Verdasco came from two sets down to put the current British No 1, Kyle Edmund, out in the second round on Wednesday.
Kyle Edmund blows two-set lead as Fernando Verdasco wins five-set thriller
It was a perplexing performance by Edmund – and by Verdasco, who looked resigned to his fate after an hour and a half, then cashed in on a steady decline by the Briton – seriously affected when his lingering knee injury flared mid-match – to win 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and 43 minutes in front of a disbelieving audience on Centre Court.
Verdasco, who is 35 and had problems of his own with an adductor muscle injury, won his 25th five-setter from 47 matches. That is resilience.
All that most people want to remember about Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon was his lifting the trophy on the final Sunday after beating the world No 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the final but he recalls painfully how close he came to going out against Verdasco, who lost the first two sets before forcing him into a desperate dogfight over five.
Edmund was disappointed to lose from two sets and a break up, but didn’t want to blame his crash to the turf in the third set, and said later, “My leg just straightened. In that moment, I felt something, but I was able to play on. It was a long quite physical match. The sort of physical intensity that I showed in the first part of the match gradually just declined.”
He will head for Washington in three weeks but said he did not need any extra rehab or medical attention on his troublesome knee - just more work to improve his all-round fitness.
It did not take long for the match to settle into a classic, back-of-the-court hitting competition, where to venture forward was to risk instant deficit. Verdasco’s gambling instincts have always been sharp, so he was the one who more often tried to force the issue at the net, and it cost him the first set.
However, three breaks on the spin at the start of the second levelled the equation and the big left-hander looked as if he was working his way back into the contest. Edmund stuck to his more conventional game plan and hit his way out of trouble to go back in front in the seventh game, always a pivotal point in any set.
It was the 10th game that did for Verdasco, however, as his radar deserted him and he needed an ace to save set point. Edmund sent a withering forehand down the line that had the crowd roaring, and Verdasco gave up a second break point with a double fault, compounding his error with an inexplicable leave of an Edmund lob that dropped on the line near his court side chair. There are many ways to lose a set and that was one of the oddest.
When Verdasco double-faulted again to go 0-2 down in the third one could hear the wheels coming off in Wimbledon village. Where there had been conviction, now there was frustration. Then, against the trend, Edmund, his knee aching, lost concentration in a shabby service game to let him back in when about to go 4-1 up. Verdasco held – double-faulting and acing – for 3-3, and the dynamic had changed as Edmund was dragged back into a fight he could have avoided. As his discipline deserted him, the tie-break looked inevitable and, on cue, it arrived. Verdasco, who had been drained of inspiration only half an hour earlier, came to life in the shoot-out and forced his struggling adversary into a fourth set.
Edmund struggled to regain the commanding dominance that he had built up in the second set and the start of the third. Early in his career Edmund struggled when dragged into longer matches by experienced opponents after he had blown early leads and this was hauntingly familiar.
Verdasco, restored and confident, steadily broke down Edmund’s resistance to level at two sets apiece. The energy and the momentum were on the Spanish side of the equation when they embarked on the fifth set.
When Edmund overcooked a forehand to give Verdasco a 3-1 lead, the sun was sinking in sync with the home hero’s hopes but, a break down, he kept fighting and held for 3-4, fists pumping in defiance. The match, though, was Verdasco’s to lose.
He held to love. Edmund held – just – to stay in the championships. Verdasco, with 10 double-faults and 16 aces behind him, stepped up to the line, chest out. He’d beaten Edmund in their only two previous encounters. Three quick points, brilliantly taken, took him to 40-love. A final, killing forehand did the job, Edmund slipping on the turf as the ball sped away from him – and Verdasco prepares now for Thomas Fabbiano.

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