Feliciano Lopez raced into the semi-finals after rolling past Spanish Davis Cup team-mate Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-6 in Thursday’s opening Centre Court clash – their inaugural encounter on grass.
But it was grass court expert Lopez who outfoxed the former top 10 ace with a clinical display of power tennis and deft volleys to be in first Eastbourne semi-final thanks to a clinical display in their first meeting since 2009.
The world no39 couldn’t be kept at bay, reverting to his aggressive serve and volley style that worked to great effect against baseliner Verdasco and has earn him three Wimbledon quarter-final berths.
It was sweet revenge for Lopez to end a run of three defeats on the bounce to Verdasco, all on hard courts.
“I’m very happy with my performance and looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-final.”
The left hander had an excellent run at Queen’s last week, winning five matches on the grass courts in London – including three qualifying ties – before bowing out to at runner-up Marin Cilic, the Croatian giant.
Lopez delivered the knockout blows to Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen and Argentine Juan Monaco to set up an all Spanish contest that entertained the Centre Court with such contrasting styles of play and tactics.
Verdasco stunned no6 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine in his opening match and then had few problems in dismissing compatriot Albert Ramos.
But Verdasco was narrowly dispatched by Lopez in a tight contest, losing his service game just once to concede the first set and then edged out 8-6 in what proved to be the decisive tiebreak.
Lopez has yet to drop a set at Devonshire Park, and if he can continue to mix up his shots and play as exquisitely as he has performed all week then not only is he in with a shot of taking the Eastbourne crown but also of making an impact at next week’s Wimbledon.