Fernando Verdasco of Spain weathered quite a test in his first-round match against France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu. After finding himself down two sets to none, Verdasco dug deep to turn the match around and pull out a 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win and advance to the second round.
In his next match-up, unseeded Verdasco will face another Frenchman, Gilles Simon, who advanced when Alexander Waske retired from his first-round match Monday.
The match between Verdasco and Mathieu was a hard-fought baseline battle in which both players ripped heavy groundstrokes on nearly every point. Verdasco committed a crippling number of unforced errors throughout the first two sets, while Mathieu had an easy time finding the court for winners.
By the end of two sets, that momentum—as well as the crowd—began to swing in Verdasco’s favor, and it was Mathieu who was spraying shots outside the lines. His frustration with both himself and a few close line calls caused Mathieu to lose his temper, throw his racket against the back fence and later slam his racket on the ground.
Verdasco was ahead by as much as 5-1 in the third set before Mathieu pushed it to 5-4, forcing the lefty Spaniard to serve out the set. Then after four breaks of serve, Verdasco took the fourth set on Mathieu’s serve to even the match.
A revitalized Verdasco came out firing at the start of the fifth, jumping to a 4-1 lead and taking advantage of Mathieu’s increasing number of errors. The most dramatic game, however, came with Verdasco serving for the match at 5-3. Verdasco had match point at 40-15, but Mathieu fought it off, along with four more, before Verdasco unloaded two consecutive forehand down-the-line winners to take the match.
Verdasco’s quarter of the draw includes top-seed Roger Federer, as well as big servers Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych, Ivo Karlovic and John Isner.