MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) For five sets and nearly five hours, two chiseled Spanish left-handers went head-to-head again at the Australian Open.
It wasn't a semifinal this time, though, and It didn't end nearly as well for Rafael Nadal, who lost 7-6 (6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to Fernando Verdasco and was eliminated in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament for only the second time in a career that has netted him 14 major titles.
Nadal won his only Australian title in 2009 after overcoming Verdasco in a 5-hour, 14-minute semifinal, a match that still ranks among the classics at Melbourne Park.
This time, Verdasco rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the last two sets, and came from a break down in the fifth to win in 4:41 and reach the second round. Nadal's only previous first-round exit in a Grand Slam was at Wimbledon in 2013, when he lost in straight sets to No. 135-ranked Steve Darcis of Belgium.
''It's a hard and painful loss,'' the fifth-seeded Nadal said. ''He was playing amazing in the last set ... more aggressive than me. He took more risks than me, and he won. Probably he deserved.''