Fernando Verdasco has had a rough year, having to come back from a neck injury to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, only to be ousted by eventual champion Andy Murray in five sets.
A new year brings with it new hopes for the 30-year-old to finally win an elusive grand slam. Here, he talks about his love for all things Australian, the passing of his beloved dogs and the fact that, yes, he can hear everything the crowd says.
Do you have good luck charms that you have brought with you to Australia?
Not really. I love this country and of course after making the semi-finals here in 2009 [his best performance in a grand slam] I feel even more special here. I’m very happy to be back every year.
Your fellow Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, has some pretty weird rituals on the court. Do you have any pre-match traditions?
I think that you have your routines to get ready for the match in your own way but it’s not like something special. You prepare your racquets and everything you need for the match. In the end, you try to have routines to be more focused and inside the match.
If you could choose one dream doubles partner, dead or alive, who would it be?
For me it would be Andre Agassi or John McEnroe, they were my two idols when I was a kid. If I could choose I would say maybe one tournament play with Andre, one tournament play with John (laughs).
What food do you eat the most of when you’re on tour?
A lot of pasta, a lot of rice and chicken, meat, fish – you try to mix it up. At the tournaments they used to have more chicken and meat than fish. Of course when you have matches you always try to eat a lot of carbohydrates. But here in Australia you can eat different things than everywhere else, like kangaroo or crocodile. That’s a little bit weird for us in Spain. I love kangaroos as an animal so I feel a bit sad to eat them, but I tried it once and I loved it.
Can you hear the crowd when you play or are you good at tuning them out?
No, of course you hear it! But you try to get the positive things out of it. Sometimes you hear things that you don’t like so much. You need to try to avoid them and use the positive things to motivate you. When you have a lot of people saying many things, in the end, you hear everything (laughs). It’s fine; there are good things and bad things.
I heard you have four dogs, is that true?
Well I HAD. Two of them died in the last year, but I still have three so we have plenty of them!
You must miss them when you’re away?
Yeah, when you are on tour it’s tough. But I miss my family more. I miss everybody back at home.