In 2009, Rafael Nadal was coming off of one of the best seasons of his career. He won Wimbledon by defeating his greatest rival and reached world number 1. Going into the Australian Open, he was filled with confidence. Then, in the semifinals, he faced a grueling test. Squaring off against his countryman, Fernando Verdasco, Nadal was forced to battle for over five hours and produce tennis of exceptional quality to overcome his lower-ranked compatriot.
Entering the 2016 Australian Open, Nadal and Verdasco were once again scheduled to meet. This time, rather than a late stage clash, they were paired at the start of the tournament. Speculation ran rampant that a repeat of 2009 could be on the cards. Nadal, trying to put the memory of a lackluster 2015 behind him, would look for a good win against a strong opponent and Verdasco, older than Nadal and far behind in the world rankings, would do his utmost to upset his longtime competitor. The match did not disappoint. This time, it was Verdasco who came out the victor in another marathon five set match. What do you think of the quality of play in both? View highlights below and let us know in the comments.
Nadal vs. Verdasco, Semifinal, Australian Open 2009: 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4
Nadal vs. Verdasco, Round 1, Australian Open 2016: 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(4), 2-6