Rafa too strong for Monaco as Spain take Davis Cup lead

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SEVILLE, Spain: Rafael Nadal brushed aside close friend Juan Monaco 6- 1, 6- 1, 6- 2 to give Spain the first point of the Davis Cup fi­nal against Ar­gentina here yes­ter­day.

David Fer­rer and Juan Martin Del Potro were to meet later last night in the sec­ond sin­gles rub­ber at the Es­ta­dio Olimpico, and his­tory sug­gests that Ar­gentina could ill af­ford to lose it – the last team to re­cover from a 2-0 deficit in the fi­nal was Aus­tralia in 1939.

Nadal may be suf­fer­ing from men­tal and phys­i­cal tired­ness at the end of a gru­elling sea­son, but he re­paid the faith shown in him by cap­tain Al­bert Costa by win­ning in less than two and a half hours to main­tain Spain’s 12- year un­beaten home record in the Davis Cup.

It was the Mal­lor­can’s 67th best-of-five-sets match on clay, and his 66th win, with his sole de­feat com­ing at the hands of Robin Soder­ling at Roland Gar­ros in 2009.

He was far too strong for his 26th-ranked op­po­nent, re­turn­ing su­perbly and not fac­ing a sin­gle break point over the course of the match.

“I played a very solid match and I am very happy with my per­for­mance,” said Nadal af­ter his 19th win in 20 sin­gles rub­bers for Spain.

His only loss came to Czech Jiri No­vak on his de­but – as a 17-year-old – in Fe­bru­ary 2004. He is 15-0 in clay-court rub­bers.

Monaco saved three break points in the very first game, but was soon swept away by the six-time French Open cham­pion in front of a hos­tile home crowd of 28,000.

Nadal sent down 27 win­ners to Monaco’s 17 while the Ar­gen­tine was also un­done by 35 un­forced er­rors. The French Open cham­pion also won seven of 14 break points.

Spain are bid­ding for a fifth Davis Cup ti­tle, and their first since 2009, while Ar­gentina have never tasted vic­tory in the event de­spite three pre­vi­ous fi­nal ap­pear­ances.

Ser­bia lost out on the chance to de­fend their ti­tle when Ar­gentina ad­vanced to the fi­nal af­ter a 3-2 semi-fi­nal vic­tory in Bel­grade last Septem­ber.

To­day, Fer­nando Ver­dasco and Feli­ciano Lopez tackle David Nal­ban­dian and Ed­uardo Sch­wank in the dou­bles with the re­verse sin­gles set for Sun­day.

They will see Nadal against del Potro while Fer­rer is slated to face Monaco. – SAPA-AFP

REUTERS

RUTH­LESS: Spain’s Rafael Nadal cel­e­brates af­ter ham­mer­ing Ar­gentina’s Juan Monaco in their Davis Cup fi­nal sin­gles rub­ber in Seville yes­ter­day.

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