Rafael Nadal d. Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 [ 2:27 h ] H2H: 3-1
I assume the Argentinian captain Tito Vasquez had a dilemma, whom he should have designated, one of the strongest mentally player of this century, but out of form lately – David Nalbandian, or a player without experience in these circumstances, but playing a good tennis in the last couple of weeks. He chose the second option, unfortunately against Nadal both of them were miserable… Monaco was hopeless, his soft tennis may work sometimes against top players, who are “pushers” (Murray, Ferrer), but “pusher” Nadal playing against guys like himself is more aggressive than usually, manufacturing consistently points with a perfect top-spin forehand. The biggest confirmation of his supremacy came at 2 all (adv.) in the 3rd set when he got the break running to the net, then to the baseline, again to the net and finishing the point with a comfortable backhand volley – he hadn’t problems with breathing whilst his opponent despite running less during the point, stumbled and couldn’t get up for a while.
David Ferrer d. Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-7(2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 [ 4:46 h ] H2H: 3-2
With two points virtually guaranteed for Spain by Rafa, before the tie this was a vital rubber. Del Potro managed to win two complicated middle sets (was serving twice to stay in the 2nd, 1:3 down in the 3rd), but trying to save a double set point at 4:5, first hit an ace, then… a double fault. Not very often there are matches in which the final outcome is decided by a point which doesn’t directly give even a game, it was one of those matches… At 2:1 for Ferrer in the 5th set, Del Potro led 40-30 on serve and both guys gifted themselves a devastating rally, at one stroke Del Potro delivered a slice without any energy, they exchanged afterwards a few more penetrating ground-strokes, and at the end of it Ferrer made a forehand winner. They received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd in a cold stadium (many spectators wearing jackets, some women gloves), which extended the break between the points to twice longer than demanded. Del Potro was barely standing, Ferrer on the other hand was lusty like at the beginning of the match, and another forehand winners gave him a crucial break. Del Potro, tired as hell, lost the following two games quickly, responded with a break of serve but Ferrer serving for the second time to win the match, took the game to ’15’ finishing first match point with a forehand winner (again!). “I expected a tough match but maybe not that tough,” said Ferrer, “I was nearly perfect, if not I wouldn’t have won.”
Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco l. David Nalbandian/Eduardo Schwank 4-6, 2-6, 3-6 [ 1:59 h ]
Verdasco had a great opportunity to join Stan Smith and John McEnroe as the third player in the Open era to win three Davis Cup clinchers (Smith won five). He was the weakest link on the court though, awkward at the net, erratic from the baseline. Verdasco finishes the season with an abysmal doubles record: 2-16 (.111) The Spaniards had three break points in the match, two of them Nalbandian fought off with aces. Actually it’s a good outcome for Nadal’s career, who will have tomorrow fantastic chance to win a first Davis Cup clincher – it has done most of the greatest players.
Rafael Nadal d. Juan Martin del Potro 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(0) [ 4:07 h ] H2H: 7-3
It was a crazy match with many twists and turns. I’ve never seen before a 7-game set which lasted an hour (exactly 61 minutes). Nadal began with a *1:0 (30-0) lead when Del Potro notched a seven-game winning streak, obtaining all important points (9 deuces in four games). It was clear that against “king of clay” he wouldn’t maintain this concentration throughout the match, and in a mirroring 2nd set, he led *1:0 (40-0) when Nadal began to dominate with his solidly penetrating forehand. Since ‘4 all’ the Spaniard won 10 out of 11 games, which gave him a 2:0 lead in the 4th set – it was a dog-fight set consisted of 8 breaks of serve! Del Potro having nothing to lose came back to his risky game and almost leveled at two sets a piece – led 5:3 (30-15) on serve. In the 12th game he produced a couple winners, dived and it cost him too much – the tie-break was a formality, and Nadal converted the first match point with his trademark shot – forehand down the line, afterwards fell on his beloved clay and sank in shoulders of his teammates.
Points for the Spanish team in 2011:
5.5 – Rafael Nadal 4 – David Ferrer 2 – Fernando Verdasco 1.5 – Feliciano Lopez