December 8, 2013
Del Potro clinches Argentina's ticket to Davis semifinals
Juan Martín Del Potro came at full speed and bashed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 to lead Argentina into the Davis Cup semifinals against Croatia. Yesterday, David Nalbandián and Eduardo Schwank won an erratic match over Cilic and Ivo Karlovic to put Argentina 2-1 ahead of the series.
The nail-biting series between Argentina and Croatia added another epic chapter yesterday at the sold-out Mary Terán de Weiss stadium in Parque Roca. David Nalbandian paired with Eduardo Schwank defeated Marin Cilic-Ivo Karlovic 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 8-6 to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at the Davis Cup quarterfinals series into the last day. Juan Martín del Potro will play Cilic at 10.30am followed by Juan Mónaco against Karlovic. However, some names can be changed.
After Nalbandian’s defeat against Cilic and Del Potro’s win over Karlovic in the opening day, the series remains tough. Neither pair showed a clear superiority in the doubles match. The Croatian team decided to change its scheduled-players to field its Friday’s singles. They showed the advantage of their stature (Cilic, 1.98 metres and Karlovic, 2.08 mts) in the serve with 12 aces against 5 of Argentina.
Meanwhile, doubles-specialist Schwank had an accurate performance while Nalbandian showed just some of his outstanding play. Croatia broke Nalbandian’s serve to be 5-3 ahead and take the set in the next game. The second set was even and decided by a tie-break. Croatia overcame one break-point being 6-5 down with a double-fault by Nalbandian but the player born in Unquillo, Córdoba compensated the crowd for his mistake with a superb drop-shot to win the set.
Confidence came back to the Argentine pair after that, as they took the third set comfortably after breaking Cilic to climb 4-3 ahead and Karlovic to win the set 6-3 with a winning forehand volley by Nalbandian.
The fourth set had two breaks for each side. Both Croatian breaks were in Nalbandian’s turn. The world number 50 did not have a good day for his serve. He lost it when the score was 5-5, committing three double faults and another one in the tie-break to give them the winner set-point, which allowed a decisive fifth set.
The end was as epic as the series. The closing-set went even up to the 13th game when Schwank made an accurate cross-shot to gain a break-point and then Karlovic hit a ball into the net. The aim for the Argentine team was to keep Schwank’s serve. Two Cilic’s out- balls and another ball smashed by Nalbandian led them to the match-point and then Cilic — clearly exhausted after playing for more than 10 hours in two days — failed to cross the ball to end the agonic match, which lasted 4 hours 59 minutes.
“It was difficult again to play in another windy day. I privilege that we clinched a key point,” said Nalbandian.
“We make a good pair. The key of the match was to keep on waiting for a window to the victory and it happened in the last game,” added Schwank.
Captain Martín Jaite confirmed that Nalbandian will be rested today and that Del Potro is getting better of his stomach ache. He trained yesterday and Jaite thinks he would be fit for today’s decisive match. “He only has an swollen eye due to his allergy,” explained Jaite.