Djokovic Advances to Round of 16
TOP seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, advanced into the round of 16 after a victory over Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Novak was appearing for the ninth consecutive year in Melbourne and had won the Australian Open four previous times.
The pattern of the match was established in the first set. Each player held serve but Fernando had to work long for most of his service games while Djokovic held serve easily.
In the very first game of the match, Verdasco served many times before clinching it. Novak won 4 straight points on his first serve. Verdasco served well but the credit was to Novak’s returning of serves and retrieving of shots that would have been winners.
Verdasco’s serve was almost broken in the third game. He went down love-30, and then fired the first of his many aces to level. Novak had a break point at 30-40 but Fernando survived though Novak had the first advantage and the server needed 4 game points even double faulting on one of them. Exhausted from the long serving, Verdasco had to get on the service line with little breather because Novak won his service without dropping a point.
It was that pattern that led to the first set tie breaker in which Verdasco got the first break and was up 5 points to three. Novak won three consecutive points to earn the first set point but his opponent leveled. The Champion got the crucial beak on the 1th point and served out the first set that lasted one hour. Djokovic consolidated his grip by promptly winning the opening game of the second set dropping only one point.
He then took Verdasco’s first service game and held his own for a formidable 3-0 lead. He never looked back and won the set at 5-3.in only 36 minutes. At that point, Verdasco took a bathroom break. There was a comic relief when a man in the audience proposed to his fiancée, who consented and the entire stadium and Novak (waiting for Verdasco to return to court).
Novak broke Verdasco’s serve in the 5th game, in which the Spaniard made an unsuccessful challenge of a call. He won the next point but eventually lost the game. Novak held his next serve easily to lead 4-2. The rest of the set went with serve. In the tenth game, Djokovic lost the first point but leveled at 30-all.
A long forehand by Verdasco gave Novak the match-point which he won when the Spaniard hit a wild forehand return of Novak’s serve. The whole match lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.
Fernando Verdasco served very well during the match but in was always while he was behind in a game that he came with his big deliveries. That is the essential difference between other players and champions who maintain intensity all through a match.