Melbourne heatwave not a problem for fit Spaniards


Melbourne : Spanish friends Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco should be comfortable in their night semi-final Friday at the Australian Open, after a cool change drops heatwave temperatures down to the upper 20 degrees Celsius.

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Top seed Nadal takes a commanding 7-0 mark into the contest, which could be played under a closed roof at the Rod Laver arena if it is still deemed too hot for safe play.

But for Nadal, in top physical shape under any conditions, a bit of summer does not rattle the man from the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. The same goes for Verdasco who hails from sometimes-steamy Madrid.

Nadal is playing his chances cautiously against national Davis Cup hero Verdasco, who led the nation to a finals victory in Buenos Aires in November, then trained with famed fitness guru Gil Reyes in the Las Vegas desert before arriving in Australia last month to start in Brisbane.

Nadal shrugged off his Spanish winter with two events in the Gulf before arriving in Melbourne.

“It may be a little bit easier for players who are from the countries with very hot weather,” said Nadal. “If you are from Argentina, where it’s also summer, it may be a little bit easier because you arrive with the same conditions.

“But for us (coming from the Northern hemisphere) it is much different,” he said disarmingly.

The pair last met at Roland Garros last year, with Verdasco winning just three games in their fourth-round meeting.

“It’s always good to play against another Spanish player in semi-finals of a Grand Slam, it’s very good news for us,” said the world No.1 Nadal.

“One of us will be in the final. Fernando is playing at his best level and I’ve played against him when he’s playing like right now.

“He’s beaten (Andy) Murray, (2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga. He used to have some mistakes in important moments and he lost a little bit of concentration. But right now he’s changing these things.”

Verdasco’s form has taken off in the weeks since he split from girlfriend Ana Ivanovic, reaching the final in his first event of the season in Brisbane.

“I’m playing good, I’m feeling good,” said the confident 25-year-old. “Anyway, I’m in semis and I don’t have pain in any part of the body. That’s the most important thing.

“I know Rafa and he knows me, I don’t think that is gonna help me or him,” Verdasco said.

“I’m just thinking about the match, how I can make it tougher for Rafa.

“I just want to go out there for first time in a semi-finals of a Grand Slam and enjoy that moment, do my best, just enjoy and try my best. I’m believing in myself a lot, I think I can beat anyone.”