Jason Kubler hit with Fernando Verdasco when he was 14 years old. On Monday, they met in ATP Tour action for the first time.
The Australian Kubler defeated the former Top 10 star Verdasco 7-6(7), 6-0 to reach the second round of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.
“It was an honour to play Fernando. I’ve looked up to him for a long time,” Kubler said. “I remember when I was 14 and I got to hit with him in my hometown. Ever since then I’ve sort of followed his career because I felt like you actually made contact with one of the stars you watch on TV.”
Verdasco, who lifted the Houston trophy in 2014, earned an early break of serve. But Kubler battled back and once he won the first-set tie-break, he was able to surge ahead.
“The match was super close [in the] first set. It was both of our first matches on clay for the year so it’s always going to be a little bit tricky,” Kubler said. “I was trying to find my feet out there,…