DAVIS CUP WORLD GROUP FINAL 2011
Argentina Begins Comeback Against Spain
by James Buddell|
SPAIN 2, ARGENTINA 1 - Olympic Stadium, Seville (Clay - Indoors)
David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank started Argentina's comeback from an 0-2 deficit in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final on Saturday when the pair won the doubles rubber over Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in Seville.
"I really like playing doubles and I am really motivated when I play for my country," said Nalbandian. "I think today we played a great match from the beginning and it was unbelievable for us. We were focused and didn't lose our concentration, even a little bit. We kept in control during the match, to stay in the tie, and we still have a chance."
Argentina trails 1-2, with the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday to decide the tie. Spain has a 20-tie winning streak at home, dating back to 1999 - which was also the last time it lost on clay.
Argentina's captain Tito Vazquez said, "It was a great performance from our team and they both played well. They did an extremely good job.
"[Tomorrow's singles] is very difficult. We were hoping del Potro would win the singles yesterday [against Ferrer], but if anyone is capable of beating Nadal it is Juan Martin. We are hoping to make it two-all, then we will see what happens."
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, a six-time Roland Garros champion, will look to improve his 27-2 clay-court record this year against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in the first rubber on Sunday. In what could be the deciding match, No. 5-ranked David Ferrer is scheduled to meet Juan Monaco.
Nalbandian and Schwank missed just three first serves - and lost six service points - in the 39-minute opening set, breaking Lopez in the third game. Schwank tightened up when he served for the set at 5-4, with Nalbandian making some timely net interceptions to ease the pressure. On their second set point opportunity, Lopez hit a backhand into the net - one of 12 forced errors.
The Argentinean pair kept longer rallies on Verdasco, the least experienced doubles player, and was rewarded with a break to 30 in the first game of the second set, when Nalbandian hit a deep forehand that Verdasco mis-timed wide. Two games later it was 3-0, after Verdasco made his second straight error - this time a backhand volley into the net. The nation's run of five straight games ended, when Verdasco held for 1-4. Schwank clinched the 36-minute set for Argentina with a hold to 15.
Lopez double-faulted at 30/40 in the first game of the third set, to put Argentina in control of the rubber. Nalbandian, who was playing only his second doubles match in 20 months, showcased just why he ranked a singles career-high World No. 3 (on 20 March 2006) with fine net play and a number of backhand winners at 3-2, when he successfully saved two break points.
In the final game, with Argentina leading 5-3, Schwank lashed a stinging forehand return at a net-rushing Verdasco to bring up a match point opportunity. Nalbandian converted the 30/40 point, by hitting a powerful forehand at Verdasco that he volleyed into the net.
Nalbandian and Schwank hit 31 winners and dropped 23 points on serve in the rubber. They won 20 of 38 points at the net, while Lopez and Verdasco failed to convert any of their three break point opportunities. They committed 26 unforced errors.
Argentina has been runner-up on three previous occasions, in 1981, 2006 and 2008. Spain, with 13 players in the Top 100 of the year-end South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, has lifted Dwight Davis' trophy in two of the past three years (2008-09).
ABOUT DAVIS CUP
Fans wanting to learn more about the history of the competition can explore a virtual tour of the Davis Cup trophy. The tour showcases the trophy within an interactive 360-degree design that rotates to allow visitors to explore the entire image. Clicking on any of the engraved plaques displays the names of the nations and players from each final and also provides audio histories of each final. To view the virtual tour, visit the official Davis Cup website.