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Nalbandian guides visitors to doubles win


 

Originally published on: 03/12/11 19:01

In nothing short of a carnival atmosphere David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank stepped up to deny the Spanish pair of Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez the luxury of a whitewash victory in the 2011 Davis Cup final. With victories in both of Friday’s singles rubbers, Spain went into the rubber with a 2-0 lead.

Lopez was first to serve and confidently took the first game without the loss of a point in one minute. Things were looking good for the red and yellow-shoed pair. But when he served next at 2-2, Lopez was broken and the Argentines lapped up the advantage, wrapping up the first set in 40 minutes in front of a crowd noisier even than yesterday, if that is possible.

Verdasco served first for the Spaniards in the second set, but after a couple of extravagant forehand misses he was broken and the Argentines raced to a 4-0 lead before Verdasco managed to hold his serve. With Nalbandian serving well and Schwank solid too, the Argentines took the second set 6-2.

After a short break as the Spanish pair left the court, the home pair swapped the serving order and Lopez came back to serve, but was immediately broken.  Nalbandian continued to serve well and Schwank delivered some well-placed serves that veered out to the side of the advantage court. Spain had their chance in the sixth game of the third set squandering two break points. Nalbandian managed to hold his serve to make it 2-3. The Spanish pair seemed to momentarily forget  about the change of serving order with Lopez stepping up to serve again in the seventh game. The Argentines pointed out that it was his partner’s turn to serve. Verdasco held serve, Schwank held too and it was the break of the Lopez serve at 5-2 that handed the Argentines victory 6-3 in the third.

The match lasted one minute short of two hours.  Lopez said, “Today was one of those days that was not a good day.  I didn’t feel comfortable with the serve and with the return.  It wasn’t one of my best days. It’s been my worst game at the Davis Cup, by large”.

Fernando Verdasco commented  “It’s very tough when you have a bad day, especially at the Davis Cup final, which is so important when you want to do your best. For me, Feli, (Lopez) as you very well know, he is like a brother to me.  I know that he’s having a really tough time.” At which point he asked the assembled press to applaud his partner, “I’m sure that he wanted to do his best.  I think he deserves an applause” which was forthcoming from the assembled members of the press.

The tie is now poised at 2-1 in Spain’s favour. On Sunday, Rafael Nadal will take on Juan Martin del Potro. Rafa could wrap the tie up for Spain and much will depend on how much Del Potro has left in the tank after his five setter against David Ferrer.  Captain Costa said, “We are ready to face Del Potro at 100%.”

Should it go the distance, potentially David Ferrer and Juan Monaco will play the deciding rubber. Unless of course, either Captain makes a last minute tactical change.

That’s for Sunday. Tonight the pale blue and white striped Argentinean fans have something to celebrate, and no doubt they will after what felt remarkably like a Champion’s League football match. In order to be heard, the Spanish supporters need to get their steel plated castanets out. Captain Costa said “We need to see the crowd tomorrow. We need to see that we are playing in Spain.”

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