Five hours, fourteen minutes: that's the biblical epic of a tennis match just played by Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco in the Australian Open. Nadal won the longest match in the history of the event 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-7 6-4, collapsing to his back in relief when Verdasco double-faulted to end a match that was half-tennis, half-Russian novel.
Now look for Nadal's trainers to place him on a bed of ice, jab IVs in both arms, and slip him five Ambien to begin a voluntary 24 hour hibernation period leading up to his match with Roger Federer on Sunday. The likelihood of Nadal recovering in time for his first hard-court final ever is slim at best: while Nadal was grinding out a five set mother with all pistons firing in the infernal Aussie heat, Federer sat in a chair being fanned by ten servant maidens "recovering" in the cool from his three set dispatching of Andy Roddick on Thursday.
In short: Nadal will need all the magical green wristbands in the world to beat Federer on Sunday. All he has to do is function at the far end of his physical capabilities while matched up against the most difficult foe imaginable in the most adverse conditions possible. Ignore all that, and it's in the bag, dude.â†µ
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