|Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts defeating Argentina's Juan Monaco on the first tennis match of the Davis Cup Final, in Sevilla, Spain, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)|
Ferrer, Nadal win to give Spain 2-0 Davis Cup lead
SEVILLE, Spain—Rafael Nadal barely needed to break a sweat in another dominant performance on clay. David Ferrer then needed one of the best matches of his career to put Spain on the brink of another Davis Cup title.
Ferrer rallied for a grueling 6-2, 6-7 (2), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday to give the host Spaniards a 2-0 lead over Argentina in the final.
After Nadal brushed aside Juan Monaco in the first match, Ferrer looked to be in trouble after Del Potro went ahead 2 sets to 1. But the Argentine seemed to struggle with fatigue and nerves down the stretch, double-faulting on set point in the fourth to force a decider.
Ferrer then jumped out to a 5-1 lead before clinching the victory with his 28th forehand winner to close out a match that lasted nearly 5 hours.
"Maybe today was the best match of my career," Ferrer said after leaving Spain on the verge of a third title in four years.
Earlier, Nadal eased to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win over Monaco, and Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco can close out the series for four-time champion Spain against David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank in Saturday's doubles.
The United States is the only nation to have rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the final, in 1939 at Australia.
"We're still alive, of course, and we have another chance tomorrow," Del Potro said. "(But) you see that even if you play unbelievable tennis against Spain you can lose."
Ferrer dropped to his knees and let out a long scream after putting the South Americans on the verge of failing for the fourth time in a final. They also lost to Spain in their last appearance in 2008.
"I expected a tough match but maybe not that tough," said Ferrer, who made amends for losing his one singles match in the final at Mar del Plata three years ago. "I was nearly perfect, if not I wouldn't have won."
Ferrer's comeback looked unlikely after Del Potro took control in the second and third sets, with the former U.S. Open champion's booming forehand dictating many of the rallies. Of Del Potro's 71 total winners, 39 came from his forehand as the cold conditions favored the lanky Argentine's game.
But with Nadal and Spain's team willing him on, Ferrer capitalized on Del Potro's errors as the Argentine followed up one of his 10 aces with his fifth double-fault to take it to a decisive set.
The fifth-ranked Ferrer carried the momentum and the support of the majority of the 26,000 spectators into the decider, and broke in the fourth and sixth games for a 5-1 lead.
"We knew (Del Potro) was the best chance to give Argentina one point, and he was very close so we're disappointed," Argentina captain Tito Vazquez said.
Nadal returned to the comfort of clay after a disappointing performance at last week's ATP World Tour Finals in London, and his best play followed as he broke Monaco seven times.
Monaco struggled to repel Nadal as the Spaniard converted the first of 14 break chances with a forehand passing shot for a 2-1 lead.
Nadal's impressive selection of winners -- he hit 26 in all -- kept Monaco off-kilter during many long and remarkable rallies, including in the fourth game of the second set when Nadal curled a backhand down the line after repeatedly chasing down Monaco's forehand.
"I felt like I was playing well but, frankly, it's Rafa Nadal," said Monaco, playing in his first final against one of his best friends. "Where can you win a point off this kid, is what you're left wondering a lot of the time."
Paul Logothetis can be reached at: http://www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP