Fernando Verdasco, who previously competed at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals as a singles player, has qualified for the doubles event alongside David Marrero.
The British tennis public knows Fernando Verdasco best as the Spaniard who came so close to hijacking Andy Murray's summer. By embracing risk, and by going for big second serves, and by teeing off with his forehand at every half-chance, Verdasco led Murray by two sets to love in a quarter-final encounter at this year's Wimbledon. It was a match that fried everyone's nerves, and Murray did well to stay in the tournament.
So, you won’t have to remind many in London that it isn't easy to contain Fernando and his forehand.
Still, Verdasco, a former No.7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, isn't just an excellent singles player; he is also lively on a doubles court. Four years ago, Verdasco appeared as a singles player at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, and though he lost all three of his round-robin matches, he was competitive, taking a set each off Roger Federer, Murray and Juan Martin del Potro. And now Verdasco, the son of restaurateurs in Madrid, is back at the season-ending championships, this time in the doubles tournament. It wouldn't be accurate to suggest that Verdasco has reinvented himself as a doubles player - as we saw at Wimbledon, he is still very useful in singles - but now he is having success both on his own and as part of an all-Spanish team, alongside David Marrero.
Verdasco and Marrero, who have been friends for years, very nearly qualified for last season's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. And this year, when their motivation was to be among the world's eight best doubles teams, they made it to Greenwich, with their highlights this season including winning a title in St Petersburg and reaching the final of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Shanghai. Verdasco, who also recently troubled Novak Djokovic in the singles tournament in Beijing, has said that it helps to partner someone who only plays doubles.
"I've known David for a long time. He's a really good person and partner. He just plays doubles, and that helps. If you have two singles players in a team, it's a little bit more complicated to understand each other. If you lose in a singles tournament you just want to leave and you won't see it with the same eyes. It's different when I play doubles with him," Verdasco has said of Marrero, who is from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, and who learnt to play tennis after his father gave him a beach racquet. "David only plays doubles, so I would feel bad saying, 'Look, I'm leaving this tournament because I've lost in the first round of singles'. So then it's just a good experience. I'm happy about playing with him. He has helped me a lot. He's always trying to cheer me up."
As Verdasco put it, "we have good serves and good forehands, and we try to work with that". Anyone who watched this year's Wimbledon through their fingers, when Murray trailed by two sets to love, would describe Verdasco's game as better than just "good".