Argentina’s chances of winning its first Davis Cup trophy in its third appearance were lofty. Firstly, it had home field advantage. Secondly, the surface selected was hardcourt. Moreover, with world number one Rafael Nadal unable to make the trip due to tendonitis, Argentina seemed blessed. But Spain showed that it is far from being a one trick pony. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco defeated Argentine Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the fourth rubber to take the title leaving thousands of boisterous Argentine fans stupefied.
In Friday’s first rubber, Argentina got off to a flying start. David Nalbandian faced Spaniard David Ferrer with the former proving to be Goliath. As usual, Nalbandian’s backhand was sublime. More impressively, his forehand was solid. He even came up with highlight reel volleys. Nalbandian prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to give Argentina a leg up. Argentina maintained the momentum through the first set in the second rubber as world number 9 Juan Martin Del Potro squared off against Feliciano Lopez. Courtesy of one service break, Del Potro carried the first set. However, Lopez no longer feeling generous cleaned up his game and pushed the second set to a tiebreak which the Spaniard easily won. With neither player making inroads on the other’s serve, the third set also went to a tiebreak. Lopez recovered from a minibreak disadvantage to take the third. In the fourth set, after Lopez jumped out to an early lead with a break, Del Potro quickly effaced that advantage. Unfortunately, Del Potro sustained a right groin injury and despite medical treatment was unable to recover. His next service game, Del Potro went down love-40, and then double faulted to get back in a hole. Ultimately, Lopez beat the young Argentine 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Saturday in the doubles, Argentine Agustin Calleri and Nalbandian took on Verdasco and Lopez. Argentina debuted well, needing a single break to take the first set. In the second, as Calleri served to force a tiebreak, he made some key unforced errors to help Spain carry the set. After stepping on the gas to get a 5-1 lead in the third, Spain sputtered. Argentina forced a tiebreak and was just two points from leading two sets to one. Spain battled back to prevent the home team from stealing the third set. In the fourth set, Spain pulled away as a stunned Argentine public looked on 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.
The feature match on Sunday was Acasuso versus Verdasco. Argentina was attempting to defy history since the last team to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the finals was Germany in 1990. Argentina’s was hopeful that despite not having played for months, Acasuso would force a decisive fifth rubber. After a sloppy first set by the Argentine which went in Verdasco’s favor, Acasuso capitalized on errors by the Spaniard to get ahead 4-1. But with multiple unforced backhand errors, Acasuso relinquished his lead. After a seesaw of breaks, the second went to a tiebreak which Argentina finally secured. In the third set, Acasuso tracked down an overhead from Verdasco and made a forehand winner for love-30. Then, a Verdasco double fault gifted Argentina the early break. Swiftly though, Acasuso returned the favor by double faulting to level the set. This back and forth pattern persisted until the tenth game when Acasuso finally consolidated a break to end the set. By picking on Acasuso’s weak backhand, Verdasco dominated the fourth and forced a conclusive fifth set. With three unforced errors, Acasuso faced love-40 in the opening game; Verdasco captured the break when the Argentine netted a makeable forehand. To aggravate matters, Acasuso suffered an abdominal strain. As the errors rained from the Argentine side, Verdasco took control of the fifth set and on the third break chance produced a forehand down the line for winner to cinch the title for Spain, the third this decade.