Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Verdasco, Reyes, Agassi, Graf connection

Fernando Verdasco is having his best start to a season ever. After reaching the final in Brisbane, the Spaniard achieved his biggest success to date - the Australian Open semifinals.

After the Aussie Open Verdasco will reach a new career high, for the first time entering the top ten. His wave of success the 25 year old put down to two things - his heroic five set win over Jose Acasuso in the Davis Cup final, that brought Spain the last point (Verdasco sees the Davis Cup win as a career defining moment and his greatest achievement) and to his work with Gil Reyes and Andre Agassi.

The work with Agassi and Reyes wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the help from his sponsor - Adidas. The company offered Verdasco a trip to Las Vegas in order to work with Agassi's former fitness trainer as well as with the 8 time Grand Slam champion himself.

"I need to say thanks because I didn't say before to adidas. Is because of my brand, no, that I had this chance to be with Gil in Las Vegas. You know, there is a development program for the players of adidas, you know, with Gil Reyes. They help us so much."

"Some players, they don't like maybe or they don't want to do it. But me, because I don't have coach, you know, I decide to go there. Also because Agassi was my idol when I was young, I decide that it was, for sure, a good experience, that I will learn so much. So I took that decision."
"The 24th of December, everybody was leaving Las Vegas because it was Christmas time. Agassi came to say hi to me, and I was speaking with him. I don't want to say what he told me, because that's secret, but really helped me so much.

"I was speaking with him two hours before he left for the mountains. He was leaving with Steffi [Graf, Agassi's wife] to enjoy Christmas. He was going to ski. I love to ski. I was there in the gym working hard, so I was a little bit jealous. But I was just thinking to be ready for the season and start good the year."

"Right now I'm feeling much better than before. They help me so much. They treat me unbelievable there. You know, I can't wait to go again there to start practicing again."

"[We spoke] about a lot of things. It was about the tournaments, how I should organize my year of tournaments. You know, I was asking him, you know, "This tournament, you think I need to play, I don't need to play, I need to practice these weeks, this week no. He was just giving me advices about, you know, what he thinks about all this, about what tournaments I need to play or which weeks I need to practice and be ready for the big tournaments. Also, after, about tactics, no, and about my game, how he thinks that I should play more and take more advantage of my game."

"You know, we were speaking for two hours, so we spoke a lot. But he really helped me so much. I'm so happy to had that conversation with him."

Will we now see Nando more often in the ladder stages of Grand Slam tournaments challenging the Great Four or is it just a fluke? Time will tell if Fernando Tabasco is really that hot...


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