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Fernando Verdasco does not plan to retire

At the age of 38, the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who became seventh in the ATP ranking, takes on tennis like someone who has a parasite in his gut, which he must first feed if he intends to live in peace. “You have to keep going until that animal, which is like an internal fire, goes out, or they turn it off because sometimes the animal says, I want to play, but the knee doesn’t let you take two steps or the elbow doesn’t let you serve”The three-time Davis Cup champion assured Efe in an interview.

Comparing passion with a kind of tapeworm is an idea that Verdasco took from his father-in-law, the Nobel prize for literature Mario Vargas Llosa, who in one of his books compares the situation of the writer with that of a person who carries a tapeworm inside. He feeds the “animal”; only then lives.

Verdasco appeared this week in Los Cabos in full recovery from elbow surgery, his third operation in a year and a half, consequence of which it fell to position 125 of the ranking. In the Mexican city he lost in three sets to Australian Thanakis Kokkinakis. However, he left a message: he has tennis left to return to the top 100.

With seven professional titles, earnings of more than $18 million, and victories over all the great players of this century except the Swiss Roger Federer, The man from Madrid has the merits to retire, but he doesn’t consider it because he wants to give himself the luxury of going out on the dance floor with the innocence of someone who sings in the shower.

“There are players who love tennis above all things, I am one of those. I like a phrase from Federer, who wondered why stop playing if he loves the game and is good at it”, says Verdasco, if asked his reasons for continuing.

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Recovered from the covid and the scalpel scars, but not from that sharp blade that is the passage of time, the Spaniard has little left of the long-haired dreamer who at the age of 19 appeared at the Acapulco tournament and reached the final . After that, he conquered the world, but he is fond of that rebel.“Ugh. If I could stand with my 2004 self, I would tell him the things I know now to make his career and his life better. I would make the good decisions the same, but I would like it to improve the bad or worse ones”he says, although he doesn’t get caught up in yesterday.

He has three wins over Rafael Nadal and four over Novak Djokovic, the two players with the most Grand Slam titles, however, tennis people remember him more for one loss, that of the 2009 Australian Open semifinal after more than five hours against Nadal. “Sometimes the memory returns to me and other times people return it to me; It was the most iconic match of my career. semifinals of the Australian Open against the number one in the world, the two Spaniards, a match of more than five hours; the level was impressive. Years and years later, someone stops me on the street and tells me that it is the best match he has ever seen in his life, ”he reveals.

That time Verdasco conceded 21 aces to Rafa and saved 16 break points, a feat if done against the strongest minded player on tour. However, he had a slip in the closing and that’s where the victory went. “On the one hand, it comforts me and makes me happy to have played so well; On the other hand, you remember it and say: my goodness, yes, it was 4-4 in the fifth set, 0-30, second serve, I missed a return and, I don’t know. So the final escaped me so I could get in against Federer.”he points out.

Verdasco has a knack for playing tennis, but, like Vargas Llosa, he distrusts talent because he believes that the key to getting ahead is hard work. “Mario says so and he is right. All players need work, work and more work, not only with talent. Federer may be at first glance the most talented in history because he is the most beautiful player, but he has certainly trained very hard; Nadal, let’s not talk; Djokovic, the same”, opines him.

Fernando imagines his 39th birthday, on November 15, and hopes to celebrate it among the top 100 in the ranking, a goal that he believes is accessible, if he remains healthy. In any case, the finish line does not keep him up at night because at this point he is on the tour above good and evil. “I include myself among those who like to play tennis the most, otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. I think I’ll hold out as long as I can because I love it and I enjoy it. Even if he loses, in the end no one likes losing, ” He says. He says it without complacency and then reinforces his dimension as a human being, as a man who got tired of winning and has fallen exhausted before a hungry animal lodged in his guts, as he insists on calling his passion for tennis.

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