Rafa reigns to send Spain into final
Originally published on 26/02/10 11:14
The defending champions are out of the Davis Cup after Rafael Nadal beat Andy Roddick in straight sets to send Spain to the final for the sixth time at the USA’s expense.
The world No.1 ran out to a 6-4 6-0 6-4 win in front of 21,000 at the Las Ventas bullfighting arena, sealing the tie at 3-1. Spain will face either Argentina or Russia for the title – with the Argentines leading 2-1 in Buenos Aires.
“It’s one of the nicest sensations you can experience in your career,” said Nadal, whose season just gets better and better – though at a price. He admitted later that he nearly didn’t play because an MRI scan Saturday showed a strained buttock muscle.
“It’s one of the nicest sensations you can experience in your career” – Nadal
But the Spaniard, who has only lost twice in 117 matches on clay, began brightly and brought up three break points in game seven with a backhand pass before burying a forehand down the line to lead 4-3.
In game ten Roddick had the chance to break back, but fluffed the first before Nadal smashed away the second, then closed the game out with his third ace, and soon closed out the set.
In the second set Nadal was electric, while Roddick looked all at sea. The third was closer, but Roddick could only win half as many first-serve points as Nadal, and was soon down 2-1 after hitting out to drop serve.
“He’s the best clay-courter of all time and I’m not that good of a clay-courter” – Roddick
Nadal was unable to break Roddick one last time in game nine. The American saved five match points before forcing Nadal to serve out for victory. “I don’t think you could draw up a tougher scenario than playing Nadal away in front of this crowd,” Roddick said, who was bagelled in a set for the first time in 22 Davis Cup ties.
“He’s the best clay-courter of all time and I’m not that good of a clay-courter,” Roddick continued. “He wasn’t leaving any balls short; he was kind of going for his shots.”
Roddick tried serving and volleying, but just found himself picked off at will by Nadal.
“It was high risk, high reward,” he said. “I don’t think there was much of a chance for me to sit back and trade punches with him from the baseline.”
Nadal and David Ferrer led Spain’s sweep of opening singles Friday. The U.S., a 32-time Davis Cup champion, scored its rubber from Saturday’s doubles match from Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan.