Spain make Davis Cup hat-trick with win over Argentina (Lead)November 24th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS
Mar del Plata (Argentina), Nov 24 (DPA) Spain lifted a third Davis Cup trophy in a decade, continuing an Olympic year victory tradition with a 3-1 defeat of Argentina here. World number 16 Fernando Verdasco Sunday clinched the weekend tie for the underdog nation as he spent a shade under four hours in defeating Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7 (3-7) 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Spain played without the services of Rafael Nadal, out with a knee injury.
Spain won the Cup in 2004 over the US in Sevilla and in 2000 against Australia in Barcelona. But the away triumph becomes a new achievement for one of the world’s most powerful tennis nations.
Spain came in as underdogs against the South Americans led by David Nalbandian, who had chosen a fast indoor surface in anticipation of trying to nullify the clay skills of four-time French Open champion Nadal.
“This is the greatest victory of my life, it’s like winning a Grand Slam for me,” said a tearful Verdasco., “It’s a dream, something I’ve wanted since I was a child. ”
The victory ended the Argentine victory run at home at 13 straight ties. Spain become the seventh nation in the Cup’s 108-year history to win three or more titles.
The defeat cast a cloud over the host nation which had entered the tie in hopes of finally lifting the title after two defeats in finals, the last against Russia two years ago.
In Moscow, it was also Acasuso who was left holding the bag, losing the deciding fifth rubber in four set to Marat Safin.
Verdasco praised the play of his opponent Acasuso. “He played well and made me doubt the outcome. But in Davis Cup it’s all about fighting until the end.”
Verdasco said he was dealing with his injured toenails. “It was bothering me all week, I also had two bandaged fingers. I also hurt my wrist in doubles but that was not enough to stop me today.”
He added that he had sent a text message to the missing Nadal as well as Spanish players Tommy Robredo and Nicholas Almagro. “Thanks to them, we were able to play in this final.”
Verdasco hung tough in the Sunday singles rubber, fighting back from two sets to one down in the marathon, with Acasuso treated for an apparent stomach muscle pull after the third set.
The 48th-ranked Acasuso was unable to rise to the home occasion despite the cheerings of 11,000 fevered fans. The Argentine saved two match points in the final game but could only watch as Verdasco sent a winner down the line on his third winning opportunity.
Verdasco converted nine of his 17 break points and produced 66 winners.
The final dead rubber between Nalbandian and Feliciano Lopez was cancelled. Nalbandian had devoted the last two weeks to Davis Cup preparation and had skipped the chance to travel as an alternate to last week’s Masters Cup in Shanghai.
He was fined 10,000 dollars for skipping a media conference after Spain fought into a 2-1 lead by winning the Saturday doubles rubber.