MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Israel's world No. 87 Dudi Sela succeeded where Rafa Nadal failed, when he subdued Spain's Fernando Verdasco to reach the Australian Open third round on Thursday.
Verdasco, who stunned the 14-time Grand Slam tennis champion in a five-set epic, won the opening set against the Israeli but faded to lose 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
The Spaniard looked fatigued from his exploits against Nadal while the diminutive Sela, cheered on by a flag-waving contingent of fans, struggled with nerves near the end.
Verdasco's cause was not helped by consecutive double-faults in the fourth set tie-break, handing Sela a 5-2 lead.
He managed to save a match point but finished the job with a well-struck backhand return that Verdasco netted.
Sela, 30, will now play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy or Russian Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for only the second time in his career.