Champions Spain on Davis Cup final brink, Del Potro in tears
Date published :
14 Sep 2012 - 20:17:24
Champions Spain edged closer to a sixth Davis Cup final in 10 years on Friday when they shrugged off the absence of Rafael Nadal to open a 2-0 lead over the United States in the semi-finals in Gijon.
Five-time champions Spain are defending a wave of 23 consecutive home victories in the tournament, a run stretching back to 1999.
World number five David Ferrer beat Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 before Nicolas Almagro won a four-hour slog against giant American John Isner, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
"It was a hard match, difficult at every moment," said 30-year-old Ferrer, who made the US Open semi-finals last week.
Isner saved three match points in the ninth game of the decider but buckled on a fourth match point when he went long with a weary forehand in the 12th.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, who have yet to win the tournament and were defeated by Spain in the 2008 and 2011 finals, opened a 1-0 lead in the other semi-final when Juan Martin del Potro beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Juan Monaco was due to meet US Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in the second singles rubber later on Friday.
Del Potro was playing against medical advice after hurting his wrist at the US Open and he broke down in tears as he gave a victory speech to a 13,000-crowd at Parque Roca which also included Argentine football legend Diego Maradona.
"It was very difficult to play with a hurt wrist," said Del Potro.
"But the crowd was fantastic. I am very passionate about playing for my country. I like to give them a good show."
In the play-offs, where a place in the elite World Group will be assured for 2013, world number one Roger Federer and his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner Stanislas Wawrinka put Switzerland 2-0 up against the Netherlands in damp and chilly Amsterdam.
Federer eased past Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 before Wawrinka, the world number 17, defeated 50th-ranked Robin Haase 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
"It was important to get off to a good start and I played solidly in rainy and windy conditions," said Federer.
"He had some chances but couldn't take them. I was happy to come through the match unharmed and I was able to win the first rubber."
On Saturday, Federer and Wawrinka, who won gold in the men's doubles at the Beijing Olympics, face Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer.
In Hamburg, Florian Mayer saw off Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 as Germany pulled level 1-1 with Australia.
Hewitt became Australia's most capped player with 33 Davis Cup appearances, but the 31-year-old, now ranked 100 in the world, was swept aside by 25th-ranked Mayer.
"I wanted to put some scoreboard pressure on him and let him know he'd have to go to four sets to win. But after he won the first set and his confidence was up, he was hard to stop," said Hewitt, who is trying to lead Australia back to the World Group for the first time since 2007.
Earlier, Bernard Tomic put Australia ahead with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) victory over left-hander Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Belgium are one win away from ending Sweden's 12-year stay in the World Group after opening a 2-0 lead in Brussels where Steve Darcis beat Michael Ryderstedt 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0 and David Goffin defeated Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
In Naples, Andreas Seppi beat Guillermo Hormazabal 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 to give Italy a 1-0 lead over Chile before bad light halted the second rubber between Fabio Fognini and Paul Capdeville at 1-1 in the final set.
Japan and Israel were level at 1-1 in Tokyo with Go Soeda beating Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and Amir Weintraub seeing off Tatsuma Ito 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Ito was only playing because Kei Nishikori suffered a shoulder injury on Friday morning.
In Astana, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were level at 1-1.
Canada and South Africa were facing off in Montreal while Brazil and two-time champions Russia were meeting in San Jose do Rio Preto.