Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Fernando Verdasco serves to qualifier Thomas Fabbiano on Day 1 of the 2019 Dubai Duty Free tennis Championships.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Just a question of getting used to the conditions at first?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: Was super difficult. I mean, like I said after the match on court, after two hours, I still didn’t know where the wind was going. My feeling was one point was going one way, the other point was going the other way. I mean, even sometimes if the point was long, it was changing during the point. Really, really difficult conditions. I been obviously a long time without playing with this wind because obviously all February I’ve been playing indoors. In Australia was a little bit windy, but not as today. I think was a very mental match. Obviously my feeling just with everything, with the ball, with the feeling hitting the ball, I was feeling if I was hitting hard I was missing long, if I was not hitting hard I was missing short. For many points, I was pushing the ball in just trying to play, to try to get the feeling with the ball. Obviously was really difficult. But I think was super mental. I finally went through because I just keep fighting and fighting no matter how bad I was feeling. I think that was the key today for sure. Not the return, not the serve, not the forehand, nothing, just the fighting spirit and the mental game with these tough conditions like I said. It was really hard. I didn’t feel comfortable in the whole match. Just hopefully I will feel a little bit better tomorrow. Maybe I play doubles, maybe not. Obviously, no matter what, I will try to get better feeling for the next round because obviously I will need it no matter who I play. Obviously Roger because is Roger, but also Philipp is an amazing player. About both of them, if I want to win, I will need much, much better feeling with the ball and the conditions.
Q. What eventually got you through?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: Like I said, just fighting and putting the ball there, trying to obviously put the ball as difficult as possible for him, trying to put everything in. Most of the balls was almost impossible to hit for a winner, to hit clean. Even if the ball was coming fluffy, in the middle of the court, easy, then it was moving at the end and you needed to make corrections in the last second of the hitting. It was, like, super risky to hit winners. At the end, I don’t want to make winners. If I make them, I make them. I will just try to put the ball in, run, put the ball in, run. I think that was everything. Honestly, I didn’t been able to do much more. Like I said, every time I was going for a little bit extra, I was missing a lot. I was not feeling good. At the end I just decide to do that, to run and put the ball in. If I make a winner, hallelujah, thank you so much. At least try to don’t make mistakes.
Q. You’ve been here many times. What do you like about coming here?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: I come obviously because after so many years on the tour, I’ve been everywhere actually, actually many times (smiling). I think to Dubai I came four, five times. I been mixing up. Last year I play South America. The year before I play here. I like here, but obviously I like also Acapulco. I think this week both tournaments, the 500s, they’re amazing. Is really tough to choose. If I play obviously Europe, I come here. If I play South America, normally you stay in Acapulco. It’s hard to come over there. Like Bedene was coming from Rio. He’s pretty strong to do that. I think I’m not able to do that just because of the jetlag. Obviously is an amazing tournament for many, many years. I still remember coming here, first time I think was 2005 because I still remember I lost with Ljubicic in three sets, even 7-6 in the third. Imagine how tough was that match. When you lose 7-6 in the third, you never forget. Many years ago, obviously is an amazing tournament, if is not as windy as today, is great conditions. I did finals two years ago playing really good. Obviously I have good memories from this tournament.
Q. Are the courts playing slower? Roger said yesterday over the years the courts all over the world are pretty much playing the same pace. Would you feel these courts have become slower? Secondly, how long does a player take to adjust to a new racquet?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: I didn’t change.
Q. Just in general.
FERNANDO VERDASCO: That’s a pretty tricky question because it depends on the change you make on the racquet. Also I think it comes from confidence. I think there are many, many facts that makes that shorter or longer obviously. It depends from which racquet to which racquet. Depends on the confidence you’re having. Obviously, if you changed racquet when you are not a lot of confidence, normally it takes longer. If you are with a lot of confidence, it takes shorter. You never know. It’s always tough. At the end many times just unconscious you think maybe you make mistakes because of the racquet, not because of yourself. Obviously the racquet helps, but it’s yourself, the one who put it in or out. Days like today, I didn’t change the racquet. I didn’t put one ball in the whole first set. Maybe I have a new racquet today and I will think was the racquet. Was not the racquet. Was myself. Obviously there’s a lot of mental game there when you change racquets. It always depends, and is never easy to change racquets. I changed racquets during my career like four times maybe. But there are many other players that they never wanted to change because they think of that mental, tricky game. Even if you think maybe what you’re going to get is better, you just prefer something bad, but you’re used to it, you maybe start messing with your head. Is not easy. Now looking back from my changes of racquets, is never easy, a change.
Q. Are the courts playing slower?
FERNANDO VERDASCO: I don’t know. Obviously today, like I said, it was completely different because it was super windy. I think we were many points just pushing the ball. It pretty felt many points really slow. Many other points, when I was serving good and hitting the ball good, I was feeling that the ball was going fast. I mean, this court, is true, in theory it was always fast, pretty fast. Maybe Roger, he sees that the court is slower this year from another years. But I didn’t see it super slow. I mean, I’ve been coming from Rotterdam or from Marseille. Obviously it’s indoor and it’s wood. Is not like this one, is a different surface. But was much, much slower than this court. Indian Wells is much
slower, Miami. I think this is faster than all these. Maybe it’s a little bit slower than other years. I don’t know why, maybe a little bit more old, the painting, whatever. It was sliding, the ball, on the bounce a little bit more than this year. I find the court here not very slow actually. Obviously Roger, maybe he loves super fast courts because he just play amazing when is super fast. Maybe he feels that it’s slower.
Q. You mentioned doubles. You played with Philipp before. How did that partnership come about? Contrasting ways of playing.
FERNANDO VERDASCO: He is German, I’m Spanish, so mentality wise we are pretty different. In Spain we’re a little bit more crazy, Latino-wise. German are more like mental, focus, everything super strict and all that. But he’s a good guy. I mean, I had a super good relationship with him for many, many years. I don’t know if we are the same age, but close to each other, maybe one year or whatever difference. We have been on the tour together all our careers, 15 years, many years. Last year I was just talking with him one day. We just started talking, Okay, we have to play one day before we retire. No joking conversation, but we have to try before we retire. We played Cincinnati. We did good. We did semifinals. We actually felt good to playing together. We just spoke to maybe try this year a few more weeks, see what happens, like to have fun. Obviously we try our best in the doubles, but also looking forward to improve for the singles because obviously we are both singles players. Why not to play also doubles and try our best. Yeah, Rotterdam, it was unlucky. We won the first round, then he needed to pull out because of family situation. I don’t know if he told about, but that’s his thing that he has to do. Obviously was a shame we couldn’t play the second round. We’re going to try this week here again. Yeah, it just happen. I’m just happy because he’s a super talented player and we have fun playing together.