The Other Spaniard

Jan 30, 2009

Last night two Spaniards were involved in a match that will talked about for many years to come. A battle of wills that lasted over five hours and was played at the highest level throughout. On this occasion Nadal emerged victorious, but there is a new level of respect for the lesser know Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, after his might efforts this year.

He came to Australia this summer as a relative unknown. He had never made it past the fourth round at a major, but there were signs early in the summer that we were witnessing a different version of the man. The vital role he played in Spain’s Davis Cup finals victory over Argentina at the end of 2008 had obviously instilled a new belief in his own game.

Addidas (Verdasco’s sponsor) have an interesting set up at the moment where they have a number of coaches on staff for contracted players to take advantage of. One of these is Gil Reyes, fitness guru and close friend of Andre Agassi. Reyes played a key role in Agassi’s resurgence in the second half of his career.

Instead of taking a lengthy off-season break, Verdasco took the opportunity to head to Las Vegas for three weeks in December and work on his game, with Reyes devising a fitness regime that included sessions on the fabled ‘Magic Mountain’ – a torturous 290m uphill stretch that Reyes credits as being instrumental in developing the leg endurance required of a top tennis pro.

As a huge fan of Agassi it also gave Verdasco the opportunity to sit with his idol for a couple of hours just before Christamas, where Agassi helped Verdasco plan out his attack fot the summer down under.

This hard work and planning would appear to have paid off, with Verdasco’s reputation both amongst players and fans dramatically enhanced as a result of his efforts this summer. He has moved into the top ten for the first time, and has the loo who feels he belonged there all along. At the age of twenty five he would seem to be a late bloomer, but the talent has always been there. It is this new committment to his game that will see Verdasco win many tournaments in the next couple of years.

And I think Davis Cup teams around the world will be dreading the prospect of facing Nadal & Verdasco at any stage of the tournament. They know they will be in for a tough battle.

Written by: Crooksy

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