Australian Open: Nadal conqueror Verdasco ousted by Israel’s Dudi Sela
Israel’s world number 87 Dudi Sela succeeded where Rafael Nadal failed by subduing Spain’s Fernando Verdasco to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday.
Verdasco, who stunned the 14-time Grand Slam champion in a five-set epic, won the opening set against the Israeli but faded to lose 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-7 (4).
The Spaniard looked fatigued from his exploits against Nadal while the diminutive Sela, cheered on by a flag-waving contingent of fans, struggled with nerves near the end. Verdasco’s cause was not helped by consecutive double-faults in the fourth set tiebreak, gifting Sela a 5-2 lead.
He managed to save a match point but Sela finished the job with a well-struck backhand return that Verdasco netted. Sela, 30, will now play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy or Russian Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for only the second time in his career.