DOHA, January 7, 2017
Besides that the two top ranked players of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open will go head to head in the singles final on Saturday for the first time in the tournament’s 25 years history, Fernando Verdasco was the man of the week. The 33-year-old Spaniard had an exciting start into the new season by advancing to the semi-finals, in which he lost a heartbreaking encounter against Novak Djokovic on Saturday evening, missing five match points.
Verdasco told afterwards that he is more sad than disappointed: “It’s tough to lose against someone so important like Novak having the match so close. Honestly, thinking about how was the break points, how was the match points in the tiebreak, I don’t think that I really played that bad or I didn’t play bad at all.”
The World No. 42 captured seven ATP World Tour titles in his career, the latest came in Bucharest last year.
“I think that it just didn’t come my way. The three I had with my serve, I served well. He just returned deep. I tried to change the direction … Then you lose that set and everything is very tough mentally. Also, he gets a lot of confidence, and at the end it’s not easy to be on top of the game again.”
Verdasco will take a lot of positives to Australia, where he is going to compete in Sydney next week. He will also play doubles with Nicolas Almagro and is going to team up with Fabio Fognini at the first major of the year in Melbourne.
“Right now I am sad but it was a great week to start the year. I beat two top 20s, and I had the No. 2 in the world right now, but No. 1 almost for the last four years, being just one point away from winning. Like I said before, I was not able to finish, but I think that I played really good tennis this whole week.”
Verdasco, who reached his first semi-final in five appearances at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, has been spending a lot of time in Doha and decided to become a resident of the Gulf state.
In June 2016, he posted on facebook:
“I know this place since 2005, when I came here for the first time. It was I can say pretty different than it is right now. I have very good friends here. I’m a good friend of the Emir, Tamim, and also I’m a good friend of Nasser, Karim Alami, the tournament director, and many other people that are working in many things here. And not only in the Qatar Tennis Federation, but also Bein Sports and also in Smash Tennis Academy,” Verdasco told about his relationships with Doha.
“So I think it’s a great place for me to be part of. Also having friends by my side, it’s so important that they support me. I think it’s really good for me. I feel like home here. They make me feel like home here. So that’s why I decided last year to come to Doha and have my residence here.”
Verdasco will leave Qatar on Sunday but he will surely be back soon.