Lopez hits back for Spain
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:09
Lopez struggled at first to deal with Del Potro’s big serve, but held his nerve in successive tie-breaks as injury and exhaustion took their toll on the home favourite to record a 4-6 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 win in three hours 19 minutes.
David Nalbandian had earlier put hosts Argentina ahead with a far more more routine win over David Ferrer, brushing his opponent aside 6-3 6-2 6-3 in the opening rubber.
Del Potro, the highest-ranked player in the final following the withdrawal of world number one Rafael Nadal, boomed down 24 aces and did not drop his serve in the first three sets.
Lopez, though, never looked like he was going to succumb as easily as his team-mate and, after losing the first set by a single break, he began to show more aggression and forced his opponent into mistakes.
The Spaniard produced a 186kph second serve to take the first point in the second-set tie-break and went on to move 4-0 ahead, a deficit the Argentinian was unable to claw back.
Del Potro had been plagued by a toe injury going into the final and also came into this match on the back of an exhausting breakthrough season.
And those factors looked like they might be taking their toll as Lopez again proved stronger in the tie-break to take the lead for the first time in the match.
The Spaniard broke for the first time after correctly challenging a baseline call to go 3-1 up in the fourth, but Del Potro broke right back when Lopez put a volley into the net.
The Argentinian then appeared to hurt his right leg when he slipped as he looked to change direction after stretching for a shot and needed an injury time-out before continuing. And that injury proved telling as he double-faulted to give Lopez the break straight back as Spain levelled the tie.