Rafael Nadal booked Spain’s berth in the Davis Cup final by beating American Andy Roddick in the fourth rubber 6-4, 6-0, 6-4.
The odds were stacked against the Americans, the defending champions, for various reasons. Firstly, they were playing on foreign soil. Secondly, two of their top players James Blake and Bob Bryan were unable to participate. But most importantly, they would have to face Spain on clay, a surface where the Americans are the least comfortable and Nadal’s pure genius has been proven over and over. Therefore, it was not surprising that after the first day, the Americans were in the position of playing catch up having lost the first two rubbers.
This uphill battle began promisingly with American Sam Querrey winning the first set in a tiebreak 7-6 over Nadal. But that would be the only bright spot in the first match. A seemingly rusty Nadal even went down a break early in the second set. But the Spaniard came roaring back to take control of the second set and the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
In the second rubber, Andy Roddick faced David Ferrer. The tide appeared to have turned for the U.S. as Roddick managed to get a two set to one lead after losing a tough first set tiebreak. Yet again, America’s luck proved fleeting as Spain stole the match in five sets 6-7, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-8. On Saturday, the U.S. stayed alive as the doubles team of Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish prevailed in spectacular fashion over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
However, the pivotal match came on Sunday as Nadal squared off against Roddick. Initially, the American used his big serve effectively to keep toe to toe with the Spaniard. Nonetheless, serving at 4-5, Roddick lost his way allowing Nadal to take the set. Thereafter, Nadal demonstrated why he has won four consecutive French Open titles. The clay master dominated, passing at will as Roddick tried to change things up by coming to net in the second set. Roddick attempted to stage a rally in the third set and had triple break point in the second game. Still, Nadal found the means to hold serve. The Spaniard then turned the tables, breaking the American at love the very next game. In the eight game, Roddick again found a slim opening at love-30, but it was promptly closed by Nadal. With a strong service game, Nadal put to bed the third set and assured Spain’s spot in the finals. The Spaniards also won the last rubber of the day with Lopez defeating Querrey 7-6, 7-6. Spain’s opponent will be either Argentina or Russia. The Russians will need to stage a come from behind charge as they find themselves down 2-1.