March 10, 2014
Argentina cling on in Davis Cup with doubles win
David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank trounced Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-2 6-3 to secure Argentina's first point of the Davis Cup final on Saturday and keep the best-of-five tie alive ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.
After Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer put favourites Spain 2-0 ahead on Friday, victory for Nalbandian and doubles specialist Schwank means Argentina still have a slim chance of winning a first Davis Cup in their fourth final and avenging defeat to Spain in the 2008 title match in Mar del Plata.
However, with world number two Nadal apparently unbeatable on his beloved clay and full of confidence after his demolition of Juan Monaco on Friday, Spain remain on course for a fifth Davis Cup triumph and a third title in four years.
"We're optimistic," Spain captain Albert Costa told a news conference.
"Tomorrow I have Rafa and David and we're going to win one of those two points."
Saturday's doubles rubber was always going to be Argentina's best chance of a point, with Lopez and Verdasco coming into the match having lost 10 of their last 11 outings together in all competitions.
Not even the raucous home support at the purpose-built indoor court inside Seville's Olympic stadium could will them to victory, Argentina's success delighting the outnumbered but vocal away fans.
Nalbandian and Schwank converted five of their six break points and saved all three they faced with an efficient display and sealed victory when Verdasco netted a simple volley, a fitting end to a poor Spanish performance.
"We played a great match," Nalbandian said in an interview with Spanish television.
"From the start we made very few mistakes, almost none," the 29-year-old added. "The tie is still alive."
Lopez, the first Spanish player to compete in four Davis Cup finals, told a news conference it had been his worst performance in the competition.
"I didn't feel comfortable with the serve and with the return. It wasn't one of my best days," the 30-year-old said.
"But I can't torture myself. Things didn't work out. We have to trust David and Rafa tomorrow to give us good news."
Nadal is due to play Juan Martin Del Potro, who lost a gruelling five-set match to Ferrer on Friday, in Sunday's opening singles rubber before Ferrer takes on Monaco.
Verdasco complained that Nadal and Ferrer had been summoned to a doping control during the doubles match, saying it was "a little bit over the top".
"I don't think it's nice that during a game they take our team mates out to go to a test," he said, before he and Lopez were also taken off for a doping control.
"They could wait until the end of the match and they could have allowed them to cheer us and then do the test afterwards," he added.