Rafael Nadal will anchor his nation’s hopes when Spain host Argentina for the 2011 Davis Cup title this weekend on the red clay in Seville.
Nadal is joined by fellow Top 10er David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco against a hungry and stout Argentine team paced by the dangerous Juan Martin Del Potro.
Argentina will also have the services of David Nalbandian, who like Del Potro has wins over Nadal, but was chosen for doubles and replaced in singles by Juan Monaco.
Spain has never lost to Argentina (3-0) which includes a Nadal-less final win in Mar Del Plata in 2007. In this their fourth attempt, Argentina has never won the Davis Cup.
While Argentina is certainly formidable if healthy, it’s hard to bet against Nadal at home even if the Spaniard’s might be fatigued. Both Nadal and Ferrer played at the London Masters last week and Rafa did have injury concerns early last month.
“The motivation, the illusion to share with all my friends here this final is completely different, the surface is different, and emotions too,” said Nadal. “Even if I am tired, I try my best to arrive to the match tomorrow with my best conditions. Tomorrow is a day I have to be very well, I have to be ready to fight every point or run every ball, and to accept that point will be a difficult one.”
Conversely, Argentina sounds like a fresh, determined bunch.
“I pulled out of Valencia and Paris to be ready for this competition,” said Del Potro. “I know for Argentinean players and our country this is very important. We are ready for a fight.”
As I picked at the start of the year, Spain should prevail. I think Nadal sweeps his two matches, Spain captures the doubles and maybe Del Potro beats Ferrer tomorrow for Argentina’s lone point in a 4-1 home team win.
Apart from the French Open, it’s been a tough season for Nadal and I don’t think he’ll allow his team to falter at this stage.
And the numbers go the Spaniard’s way. Spain has won 20 straight home ties since losing to Gustavo Kuerten’s Brazil squad in 1999. And Nadal, he’s enjoying his own streak having won 18 straight Davis Cup matches since losing his debut to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic in 2004. Ferrer is also 11-0 in Davis Cup ties on clay.
Still, if Argentina can win the doubles and go into Sunday with a 2-1 lead, look for Nalbandian to sub in for Ferrer in the fifth and climactic rubber. Knowing how much Nalbandian wants a Davis Cup title that would be a heck of a match.
Friday’s rubbers feature Nadal against his good friend Monaco followed by Ferrer vs. Del Potro.
Tennis Channel has live TV coverage of the tie starting at 8am.
DAVIS CUP SPAIN V. ARGENTINA WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Friday, 2 December 2011 – start 2:00 PM (8am ET)
R Nadal (ESP) v J Monaco (ARG)
D Ferrer (ESP) v J del Potro (ARG)
Saturday, 3 December 2011 – start 4:00 PM (10am ET)
F Lopez / F Verdasco (ESP) v D Nalbandian / E Schwank (ARG)
Sunday, 4 December 2011 – start 1:00 PM (7am ET)
R Nadal (ESP) v J del Potro (ARG)
D Ferrer (ESP) v J Monaco (ARG)
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