Urged on by the hometown fans, Argentine teenager Juan Martin Del Potro was the hero on Sunday as he defeated Russian Igor Andreev to secure Argentina’s place into the Davis Cup final 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
On Friday, Argentina cruised to a 2-0 lead with superb performances by David Nalbandian and Del Potro. In the first rubber, Nalbandian beat Andreev 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. After losing a tight first set in a tiebreak, the Russian simply disappeared. An unforced error by Andreev in the second allowed Nalbandian to capitalize on triple break point and go up 3-1. Andreev had several chances to get back on serve but his erratic forehand proved to be his Achilles heel. Nalbandian closed out the second set with another break; then with his consistent play prevailed in the third for the straight sets win.
In the second rubber, Del Potro took on Nikolay Davydenko who turned out to be no match for the talented youngster 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. With his crushing forehand, Del Potro broke at will to take the first set. After getting a double break at 4-1, Del Potro’s game hit a wall. As a result of unforced errors, he let Davydenko back in the second set. Yet, Davydenko failed to convert on two opportunities to equalize the set and Del Potro eventually secured it. The third set was a cakewalk for the teenager.
On Saturday, the Russian team of Dmitry Tursinov and Igor Kunitsyn defeated Argentines Guillermo Canas and Nalbandian in an exhilarating five set match 6-2, 6-1, 6-7, 3-6, 8-6. After a blazing start whereby the Russians were up two sets to none lead, the relentless Argentines carried the third set in a tiebreak after saving three match points. After winning the fourth, the Argentineans coasted to an early break in the fifth set. However, the Russians broke at love to get back on serve. Then, with multiple unforced errors from their rivals, Russia converted a break point. Subsequently, Tursinov served out the match with a strong game to keep Russia alive.
On Sunday, Davydenko bounced Nalbandian 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0. With a drop shot winner, Nalbandian went up a double break and won the first set. But once Davydenko cleaned up on the unforced errors, he converted on his fifth break point chance in the second set to take a 3-1 lead and eventually the set. Despite some dicey play, in the third, Davydenko broke Nalbandian at love to edge in front 3-2. But serving for the set at 5-4, the Russian missed a backhand crosscourt allowing Argentina back into the set. However, in the tiebreak, Nalbandian double faulted to concede the set. Then, a barrage of unforced errors followed from the Argentine in the fourth allowing Russia to comfortably win.
In the decisive rubber, unaffected by the magnitude of the moment, Del Potro, the hottest player on tour besides Rafael Nadal, began the match by breaking the Russian. Andreev’s inability to contain the unforced errors helped Del Potro to prevail in the first set. In the second set, a net court went in Del Potro’s favor giving him another break point which he converted. Then with that unstoppable forehand, Del Potro hit a couple of winners to extend to a double break lead. In the third set, with his steady play, Del Potro jumped out to a 4-0 advantage then with some thundering forehand winners, the Argentine closed out the match 6-4, 6-2. 6-1. Argentina will face Spain in the finals at home. For sure, the ultimate match up would be Nadal versus Del Potro considering the extraordinary season these two are having.