The Saturday doubles gave a little respite to Argentina after that tough Friday. Today, the fate of the team conducted by Tito Vázquez rested in the hands of a pair that had never played together in Davis Cup. And what we may say is that David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank (funnily nicknamed Los Gordos by the Argentines) succeeded with top grades.
David Nalbandian is one of the most successful players ever to play Davis Cup for Argentina. Despite the fact that he hadn’t played in many weeks, he arrived on the court fresh and ready to fight. As for Eudardo Schwank, he is the best doubles player of Argentina, but many remained with question marks regarding his nerves during big moments, and we knew that this was a huge one.
I said remained. Because whatever doubts there still were when the match started were quickly dissipated when we saw how calm and composed Schwank was on the court. Calm, composed and when he was threatening to lose his composure, there was Nalbandian encouraging him, talking to him, giving him strategy tips. As many said during and after the match: hay dobles (there’s a doubles team).
Facing them was a duo that’s been going adrift since the beginning of the year. Sadly for them, today, Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco showed only that. From bad service games to gross mistakes on routine shots, the Spanish pair played exactly like they did in the semi-finals against France: badly. But this time, both played bad, very bad. And not only that, they were made to look worse than they were due to the quality of the opposition. They served very well, their returns were sharp (particularly in Schwank’s case) and they made sure to give as little opportunities to López and Verdasco as it was possible.
Needless to say that this 6-4 6-2 6-3 win of Schwank and Nalbandian did not only ensure that there would be a meaningful third day, it kept the hope of an Argentine miracle very well alive, in the team as well as in the stands, where the Argentine supporters were even noisier than they were numerous, chanting relentlessly throughout all the match. An ambiance akin to that of football matches more than tennis, but a unique ambiance that we can only see in Davis Cup:
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(Video: BA Tennis)
It was an emotional win for Argentina, ensuring that the tie will survive at least one more match (Spain now leads the finals 2-1). There have been speculations all throughout the match as to whether or not Juan Martín del Potro would play the now vital fourth rubber against Rafael Nadal. Doubts that were quickly dismissed by Tito Vázquez, who confirmed that Delpo was in shape and had recovered from his gruelling Friday match.
But in order to win, Delpo will have to serve much, much better than he did when he faced David Ferrer on Friday, and, again, bring all he’s got in order to force a decisive fifth rubber. The last part leaves me no doubt that it will happen. The first one, however, worries me. Then again, I remember as well how inspired he was when he faced Novak Djokovic in Belgrade and I’m hoping tomorrow will be the same against the Clay Monster himself.
The match starts at 7AM (EST).