A peculiar thing happened to Rafael Nadal on the way to losing to Fernando Verdasco at the Miami Open on Sunday afternoon. While Verdasco’s 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 third-round win over Nadal was his second in a row over the former world No. 1 after 13 straight losses, it’s not like Verdasco has found some new magic elixir to defeat his fellow countryman. Nadal simply lost his nerve in the big moments at Key Biscayne on Sunday, and that’s not taking anything away from Verdasco’s dogged and exceptional play. After dropping the opening set, Nadal came roaring back in the second, winning five games in a row with two service breaks to even the match at a one-set all. Once Nadal gets going, he almost always turns into a steamroller. But that didn’t happen. Verdasco broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1, and after that Nadal had few answers. Nadal was also knocked out of the BNP Paribas Open two weeks ago as well, losing to Milos Raonic for the first time in the quarterfinals after holding three match points. A common thread in the losses; nerves. Nadal missed a chunk of time in 2014 with health issues and injuries and said while he’s fully recovered, he hasn’t regained his confidence. “He played well the third, so he deserved to win more than me without any doubt,” Nadal said of his match with Verdasco. “Today, my game in general improved since a month and a half [ago]. But at the same time, [I’m] still playing with too many nerves in a lot of moments, in important moments. I was anxious on court… I wanted to be there. I tried in every point, but I was not able to relax myself, calm myself.” Verdasco hit 29 winners to 18 for Nadal, while Rafa committed an uncharacteristic 32 unforced errors. “It’s not a tough issue to fix, but I’m going to keep trying,” Nadal said. “I am trying my best. I am practicing with the right attitude. It’s not the question of tennis, [It’s] the question of being relaxed enough to play well on court” Nadal has posted a 15-5 record on the year, while winning once at Buenos Aires.
Nerves Causing Travails for Nadal
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