Lopez pulls Spain level 1-1 in Davis Cup final

November 22nd, 2008 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Mar del Plata (Argentina), Nov 22 (DPA) Fighting Feliciano Lopez kept Spain in the chase for the Davis Cup title, overwhelming fatigued Argentine Juan Del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to pull the visitors to 1-1 in the final.Lopez, substituted into singles by captain Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Friday proved his worth as he stunned Del Potro, who has been feeling the effects of a long season where he won four titles back to back over the summer.

Local hero David Nalbandian had kick-started the dream weekend for Argentina, producing a resounding 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 opening defeat of David Ferrer.

“We are a step closer to earning the Davis Cup,” said Nalbandian in victory. “It would be historic for South American tennis.”

Spain’s Ferrer had no answer to Nalbandian, playing in front of a fervent home crowd as Argentina bid for a first Davis Cup title after losing in two previous finals.

“I played a great match and we got the first point of the weekend,” said Nalbandian after the victory lasting a shade under two hours. “I hope it can continue like this.

“It was a quick match played at a high level. I’m ready to play doubles tomorrow if the captain needs me.”

Even 24 aces were not enough for Del Potro to get past the court-smart Lopez, finalist this season in Dubai and well at home on the fast indoor court chosen by the hosts.

Lopez fired 17 untouchable serves of his own while breaking Del Potro twice in a contest lasting nearly three and a half hours.

Argentina are desperate to become third-time lucky in a Davis final after losing to the US in 1981 and to Russia in 2006.

The hosts have not been beaten in their last 13 home ties.

The winning odds also lie with the home nation. In 105 finals, the hosts have won 71 times. The only time in the past six editions that the visitors have triumphed was in 2005, when Croatia defeated Slovakia in Bratislava.

Nalbandian raced away against an off-the-boil Ferrer, whose poor form from the last ATP season continued unabated.

The Argentine broke twice in the opening set, lost one of them but re-broke in the final game to get the momentum rolling.

The 11th-ranked Nalbandian then dominated in the second and rode a break for 4-2 in the third to put his nation into a solid lead. He reached three match points with his seventh ace and converted on the first.

Spain is missing the injured Rafael Nadal, who is nursing a sore knee.

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