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Sunday, November 23, 2008

TENNIS SPANISH HEROES MADE IT THEIR DAVIS CUP 2008

Verdasco Seals Spanish Davis Cup Victory After Nervy 5-Set Win

by Sean Randall

Source: www.tennis-x.com

No Rafael Nadal. No problem for Spain who still captured the Davis Cup title over home favorite Argentina without the services of their World No. 1. Spanish lefty Fernando Versdasco sealed the victory today after rallying to beat Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the Davis Cup final played in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.

Verdasco was penciled in for the subpar David Ferrer while Acasuso replaced the injured Juan Martin Del Potro. And with the score 2-1 in Spain’s favor and David Nalbandian and Feliciano Lopez scheduled for the fifth rubber, it really was a winner take all kind of match (I think Nalbandian would have won that fifth) and the nerves and pressure showed.

In the biggest career match for either player, both Verdasco and Acasuso were understandably tight, tense and nervy. At times it was even tough to watch on TV (I can’t imagine the tension in the arena!). Witnessing a match like that really makes you appreciate the greats like Roger Federer and Nadal who keep together so easily under the most extreme pressures.

With Acasuso up 2-1 in sets, it looked like Argentina was going to get it to Nalbandian, but Jose all but caved in. By the fifth set Acasuso looked like a guy who didn’t want to even be out there. That’s too bad.

Full credit to Verdasco, though. He’s gotten his fair share of ribbing from many folks – myself included - for being an underachiever, but despite some early choking and double digits double faults, he came up huge today and yesterday in the doubles with buddy Feliciano Lopez.

And Spanish coach Emilio Sanchez deserves a nod for passing on Ferrer in favor of Verdasco, who really had never proven himself in a big pressure match situation. Great move by Sanchez.

As for Argentina, they absolutely had to have this title but the moment and maybe some bad luck got to them in the end.

Their rising star Del Potro gets injured in a singles loss to Lopez on Friday. That’s bad luck. But you could make the case it evens out with Spain’s Nadal loss. And without Nadal it was almost a catch-22 for Argentina having to play Lopez and Verdsaco on a fast hard court surface. Had it been known well in advanced that Spain would be without Nadal, Argentina would have surely chosen clay.

For me though the tie really swung in the Saturday doubles. After splitting the first two sets, Spain led 5-1 in the third but before jumping on the choke button allowing Argentina to roar back and force a tiebreak

But just when momentum seemed to have firmly shifted to the home nation, Argentina collapsed. Serving up 5-1 in the breaker a Spanish fan yelled out in mid-toss leading to a Nalbandian double fault. And that did it. Argentina was unable to win another point in that breaker subsequently falling 2-1 in sets. Argentina ultimately lost the match setting up today’s must-win fourth rubber. But that’s just part of the allure of Davis Cup.

Back to today, you have to really feel for Acasuso, who suffered his second 5-set defeat in a clinching rubber of a Davis Cup final, and the Nalbandian who I’m sure wanted this one badly.

Again, though, congrats to Spain. Without Nadal, playing in a hostile environment they could have easily rolled over but they didn’t. They kept their head and now they have three Davis Cup titles while Argentina remains stuck at zero. And who would have guessed that Lopez and Verdasco would figure in all three points leading to Spain’s triumph. I guess in some ways it’s a fitting conclusion to a very wacky season.

Viva Espana.

Source: www.tennis-x.com

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Spain crushes Argentine hopes to win Davis Cup

Source: www.daviscup.com/news

Spain has caused the biggest upset on Argentine soil and won the 2008 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, after Fernando Verdasco pulled through a five-set thriller of a fourth rubber against Jose Acasuso to hand the visitors their third Davis Cup title and first on away soil.

It was a fitting end to the 2008 season for the Spaniards, who have not only been the leading nation all year on the tennis tour, but proved this weekend that even without Rafael Nadal, they are a winning combination.

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Verdasco ended Argentina's 13 home tie unbeaten record in Davis Cup, defeating Acasuso 63 67(3) 46 63 61 in the first of the reverse singles on Sunday, having been substituted in for Spain's No. 1 player David Ferrer that morning to play his first ever live decisive rubber.

"This is the most beautiful day of my life," said Verdasco, after he emerged from the surge of red bodies that had piled onto the court to embrace their hero. "This is the most important match and win of my life. I will always remember this. Its like winning a Grand Slam."

With Spain leading Argentina 2-1 overnight, predictions were flying around all over the place as to who the captains would choose to keep their nation's hopes alive in this enthralling Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final. But when the changed line-up for Sunday's opening singles match was confirmed over the airwaves at 11:00hrs, indications as to who would leave Mar del Plata as 2008 Davis Cup champions weren't any the clearer. This was always going to be a tight match.

"When Ferrer found out he was not playing, he took it well," said victorious captain Emilio Sanchez. "He immediately offered his support to Fernando which helped him come out on court."

It was only until three and a half hours into this momentum-swinging and error-strewn match that Spain's hold on the Davis Cup became first apparent. In the fifth set, Verdasco broke in the opening game and raced to a 5-1 lead and from then on, there was no coming back for Acasuso who simply flagged under the deficit.

"I was more relaxed after the fourth set," said Verdasco. "I understood we needed tactics to win the match and I realised that he was tired so I took advantage of making him run."

The Argentine, in devastated tears after the match, unfortunately becomes the first man to lose two decisive fifth rubbers in a Davis Cup final, having also succumbed to Marat Safin in five sets in 2006. He had the mental tenacity during this match, and had saved a match point at 1-5 30-40 down, but he simply ran out of gas and at one point after losing the fourth set, had the trainer out on court to fix an abdominal strain.

"There was a lot of sadness in the locker room after the loss," said Acasuso after the match,"and the fact that three of the four of us lost to Russia two years ago means that the pain was double."

It's a devastating blow for the Argentines who came into this final as the firm favourites following the withdrawal of the injured Nadal. What the defeat has left is an unbeaten record in tatters and a shell-shocked team who will need a long time to reform and recuperate as a unit, ready to start all over again in the first round ties in March. But this time it will be without Alberto Mancini, who announced he will now step down as Argentine captain.

Sanchez finished off the weekend's victory by thanking Nadal for his commitment during the year in helping his nation reach its sixth Davis Cup final, also adding that this was the sweetest victory of his career. "Alot of people in Spain criticise me for not having a plan B, but I proved that I had a pretty good plan B. This is the biggest win for me, even as a player."

Spain will return to home soil to defend its title next year when it takes on Serbia in the first round of the 2009 competition. And what an encounter that will be.


Source: www.daviscup.com/news

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Nadal-less Spain upsets Argentina in Davis Cup

Source:
www.miamiherald.com

By TALES AZZONI

Associated Press Writer

Who needs Rafael Nadal?

Even without the top-ranked player, Spain won its third Davis Cup by beating Argentina on Sunday, thanks to Fernando Verdasco's five-set victory over Jose Acasuso.

Verdasco outlasted Acasuso 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 before a boisterous Argentine crowd at Islas Malvinas Stadium. The fans went quiet as Argentina lost at home for the first time in 10 years in Davis Cup competition.

"It's the most exciting victory of my life," Verdasco said. "Playing for my country, against the best players, it's a dream."

Spain won its first Davis Cup title on the road, adding to victories against Australia in 2000 and the United States in 2004.

Verdasco, replacing David Ferrer in the reverse singles, overcame nine double-faults to beat a shaky Acasuso in 3 hours, 56 minutes. The 48th-ranked Acasuso was a late replacement for the injured Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina's top-ranked player at No. 9.

Argentina entered the heavy favorite after Nadal withdrew last week because of a knee injury.

"Nadal gave us several victories, and thanks to him we are here," Spain captain Emilio Sanchez Vicario said. "But the players who are here are the ones who deserve all the credit now."

After winning match point, Verdasco dropped to the court in celebration and was embraced by his teammates.

"Spectacular," Nadal said on Spanish state television. "Sincerely, this is history."

Nadal said he would've loved to have been in Argentina to celebrate with his teammates.

"Moments like these, sharing them with your teammates are unforgettable," Nadal said. "They played a tremendous tie - it's time for them to enjoy it."

Verdasco recognized the efforts of other players who helped Spain reach the final, including Nadal, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro.

"We have to thank Rafa, Tommy, Almagro," Verdasco said. "It is thanks to them we are here."

Despite the support of nearly 10,000 fans, Acasuso was not able to keep up with Verdasco, who played well in the doubles win alongside Feliciano Lopez on Saturday. Acasuso served 14 aces, but had 47 unforced errors.

"I was prepared for the match, but Verdasco played very well in the fourth and fifth sets," Acasuso said. "He started serving better and deserves a lot of credit for this win."

Both players struggled on serve, with Verdasco broken five times and Acasuso on nine occasions.

Verdasco broke Acasuso's service in the sixth game, going up 4-2 to easily win the first set.

That silenced the crowd, but Acasuso lifted the fans by winning the second-set tiebreaker after each player broke twice. One of the breaks came when Acasuso served for the set at 5-4.

The Argentine kept pressing in the third set, breaking Verdasco in the first game and twice more. Verdasco stayed in the match with a solid fourth set, breaking Acasuso to lead 4-2 and winning four of the last five games.

The Spaniard dominated the fifth set, winning the first four games and cruising to victory. Argentina last lost at home during Davis Cup competition in 1998 to Slovakia.

Argentina had reached the final twice, losing to the U.S. in 1981 and Russia in 2006.

Acasuso had won his only other match against Verdasco, whose Davis Cup singles record improved to 4-3. Acasuso is 5-3.

The 20-year-old Del Potro, one of the hottest players on tour this year, injured his right thigh in a four-set loss to Lopez on Friday. Verdasco came in for Ferrer after he lost his singles match in three sets to David Nalbandian on Friday.

"When you lose such an important player like Juan Martin, it opens a big hole in the team," Argentina captain Alberto Mancini said. "After that, things got complicated for us."

The title moved Spain from fourth to second in Davis Cup rankings, behind Russia. Argentina would have reached No. 1 with a victory.

The United States won last year's final, beating Russia.

Associated Press Sports Writer Paul Logothetis contributed to this report from Madrid.

Source:
www.miamiherald.com

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Verdasco victory seals Davis Cup for Spain

Source: www.tennis.com/news

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (AP)Spain won its third Davis Cup title without the services of top-ranked Rafael Nadal, upsetting Argentina 3-1 in the final on Sunday.

Fernando Verdasco defeated Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in front of a boisterous Argentine crowd at Islas Malvinas Stadium. Argentina lost at home for the first time in 10 years in Davis Cup competition.

Verdasco, replacing David Ferrer in the reverse singles, overcame nine double-faults to beat a shaky Acasuso in 3 hours, 56 minutes. The 48th-ranked Acasuso was a late replacement for the injured Juan Martin del Potro, Argentinas top-ranked player at No. 9.

Spain won its first Davis Cup title win on the road, adding to home victories against Australia in the 2000 final and the United States in 2004.

Argentina had reached the final twice, losing to the U.S. in 1981 and Russia in 2006.

After winning match point, Verdasco dropped to the ground in celebration and was embraced by his teammates. Argentina entered the heavy favorite after Nadal withdrew last week because of a knee injury.

Despite the support of nearly 10,000 fans, Acasuso was not able to keep up with Verdasco, who had played well in the doubles victory alongside Feliciano Lopez on Saturday. Acasuso served 14 aces, but had 47 unforced errors.

Verdasco broke Acasusos service in the sixth game, going up 4-2 to easily win the first set.

That silenced the crowd, but Acasuso lifted the fans by winning the second-set tiebreaker after each player broke twice. One of the breaks came when Acasuso was serving for the set at 5-4.

The Argentine kept pressing in the third set, breaking Verdasco in the first game and twice more. Verdasco stayed in the match with a solid fourth set, breaking Acasuso to lead 4-2 and winning four of the last five games.

The Spaniard then dominated the fifth set, winning the first four games and cruising to victory. Argentina last lost at home during Davis Cup competition in 1998 to Slovakia.

Acasuso had won his only other match against Verdasco, whose Davis Cup singles record improved to 4-3. Acasuso is 5-3.

The 20-year-old Del Potro, one of the hottest players on tour this year, injured his right thigh in a four-set loss to Lopez on Friday. Verdasco came in for Ferrer after he lost his singles match in three sets to David Nalbandian on Friday.

Spains doubles win Saturday ensured it needed just one victory on the final day to clinch the title, while the Argentines were left with the difficult task of having to win both matches on Sunday.

The title moved Spain from fourth to second in Davis Cup rankings, behind Russia. Argentina would have reached No. 1 with a victory.

Source: www.tennis.com/news

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