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Old 08-22-2009, 07:33 PM   #53
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Here's another oldie, but goodie from the grand tennis connoisseur known by the name of Simon Reed:

Reed: Verdasco is the future

Eurosport - Tue, 17 Mar 16:40:00 2009

Eurosport-Yahoo! blogger Simon Reed has seen the future - and his name is Fernando Verdasco.

I saw Fernando Verdasco playing at Indian Wells last night - and he's the future.

I wrote last week that the world's top four are all pretty much in the right place with their games, but that Verdasco could be better player than Novak Djokovic - and I stand by that now.

He's the most exciting new thing in tennis, and the world could be his oyster.

The tennis he produced against Richard Gasquet last night was simply exhilarating, thrilling stuff. I was dog tired but I just couldn't keep my eyes off it. Fantastic.

The combination of coaching from Darren Cahill, physical training from Gil Reyes, and Andre Agassi chipping in with bits of advice, have turned Verdasco into a quite incredible player.

His physique in particular has changed completely. Reyes has obviously been at him non-stop, and if he can keep himself fit and consistent then he could be right up there with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

There are no other words for it: he's a potential world number one, though several things need to happen for him to reach the top spot.

For starters, Federer's self-doubt in crucial situations would have to continue and Nadal would have to falter physically, which isn't happening at the moment but certainly could happen given his history.

I don't see Djokovic as quite the threat that others do. He's got terrific credentials but I'm just not on his bandwagon like other people are. Murray, for his part, has yet to go that final yard in a Grand Slam - but I think he will.

Verdasco, in my eyes, is up with any of them. What's more, he has become the most thrilling spectacle in the game. His shotmaking is unbelievable, his stamina - as we saw in Melbourne - is endless, and if I could watch any player in the world at the moment, I'd watch him.

And all this from a player who spent years floating around the middle reaches of the world's top-50 without looking like he had the potential to reach the top.

The truth of it, I think, is that he was easily distracted in a way that many of us are in our early twenties. Let's just say he kept a closer eye on the women's circuit than the men's!

His social life definitely wasn't helping his tennis, but boy are things different now. He's putting in the physical and mental work he needs to do. He's got much more patience, more confidence to keep going through the rallies, and he knows he can pull the trigger at any time.

And then there's his breathtaking array of shots. This man is a champion waiting to happen.

All in all it's a really exciting time for the game that compares to any of the golden periods of tennis: Agassi, Sampras and Courier from the early '90s, Becker and Edberg, or Connors and McEnroe from the '80s. There were great rivalries out there, and we're once again getting greater strength in depth.

Before Federer came on the scene the depth was lacking. That's not to say he was lucky, because he was incredibly consistent. And he was also unlucky in that Nadal came on to the scene. As probably the greatest clay-court player of all time, Nadal has stopped Federer claiming a career Grand Slam.

But the depth at the top has increased hugely now, with first Murray and now Verdasco staking their claims to be among the world's best.

Verdasco does need to win at Indian Wells to show he is the real deal. If he gets bundled out in the next round I'll look pretty silly, because he needs to beat better players than Gasquet to prove himself at the top level.

But right now, if all of the top-five produce their best this week, I genuinely believe Verdasco would walk away the winner.
Bandwagoning, much? Somebody on another board referred to Mr. Reed as the "tennis commentators' answer to Ed Wood." I thought that was a pretty apt description.
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