EASTBOURNE, England — Spain’s Fernando Verdasco blasted the ATP Tour after his 6-4, 7-6 (6) loss to Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals of the Aegon International on Thursday, claiming that his compatriot Rafael Nadal would never have been asked to play in such dangerous conditions on a wet court.
“I feel that the conditions were not right to play even before the match started,” Verdasco said. “I told the umpire. I told him that the court was slippery, and just in the warmup that you [can't] even move to the sides.”
The match at the grass-court tournament was initially delayed for more than an hour after rain and heavy fog hit the seaside town on Thursday morning. After losing the first set, Verdasco again complained to tournament supervisor Tom Barnes and asked that the match be suspended until the court could dry out.
“I just saw it on them and I said, ‘OK, if you want us to play like this, we will play like this, but then after, if somebody get hurt, who is responsible of this?’” Verdasco said. “Because the ATP is not going to be responsible of us getting hurt because the court is not good.”
Verdasco, a former world No. 7 and Australian Open semifinalist who is now ranked No. 58, lamented his lack of power in the ATP. He compared his status in the game to Nadal’s.
“If I was Rafael Nadal, I could say, ‘I don’t play,’ and I’m pretty sure that the ATP will say, ‘OK, we wait till the court is good,’” Verdasco said. “But because I’m not Nadal or [Roger] Federer or any of these guys, I need to do what the ATP wants. Because if I said, ‘I [default],’ the tournament will not say, ‘We wait.’ Then I will get a fine from the ATP because I didn’t want to play in the bad conditions. So what do I need to tell you? I think you have enough experience to know how life is. The ones that are [high up] have everything they want. The ones that are not there, you need to do what the other wants.”
Lopez agreed that the courts weren’t perfect but said they had no choice but to play.
“[We] knew that it’s going to be difficult today because the atmosphere was very humid,” Lopez said. “[The court] will never get dry, really dry. … So sometimes with the grass it is difficult because you feel that you are not safe. But they tell you to play and you have to play. So not much to do.”
Lopez said the same thing happened to him at the Aegon Championships last week at Queen’s Club — his second-round match against Julien Benneteau was repeatedly halted for rain, but they were asked to play on with wet and slippery courts. Asked if he agreed with Verdasco’s claim that Nadal would never have been asked to play through those conditions, Lopez smiled. “Some players, they have a lot of power,” he said.
The controversy shouldn’t take away from Lopez’s strong performance; he’s had three good wins this week, beating Jarkko Nieminen, Juan Monaco and now Verdasco. The conditions definitely helped his serve-and-volley game against Verdasco, who struggled to return his big lefty serve as it skidded off the wet grass. Lopez finished with 14 aces and saved both break points on his serve.
After Lopez’s victory, Verdasco gave his buddy a playful punch to the chest.
“I just say, like, ‘I hate you. You serve unbelievable,’” Verdasco said, laughing as he recounted their post-match meeting at the net.
Lopez will face Ivan Dodig in the semifinals.