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Davis Cup

Argentina stays alive by winning doubles

Associated Press / December 4, 2011
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SEVILLE, Spain - Argentina won the doubles against Spain to pull within 2-1 in the Davis Cup final yesterday, although the South Americans will face Rafael Nadal on his favorite clay surface today.

David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank, partnering for the first time, eased to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Spanish pair Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez on the clay at Olympic Stadium.

Nadal, unbeaten on clay in 16 Davis Cup matches, opens today for four-time champion Spain against Juan Martin del Potro.

The South Americans broke five times and overcame three break points to extend the series. The visitors need to sweep today’s reverse singles to become the first team in 72 years to rally from a 2-0 deficit.

“We played a great game,’’ said Nalbandian. “We’re in very good shape, and the series is still alive. Our hope is intact.’’

The 11th-ranked Del Potro needs to recover quickly from his exhausting, nearly five-hour loss to David Ferrer Friday.

“It’s normal he feels tired, but I think he’s ready for the challenge,’’ said Argentina captain Tito Vazquez. “To take it to a fifth match, we have to win the fourth, and that means we have to beat Rafa Nadal. It’s not so simple.’’

Nadal and Ferrer are a combined 27-0 on clay for Spain, which hasn’t lost a home series on clay since 1999.

“We have Nadal and Ferrer to win 1 point,’’ said Spain captain Albert Costa.

Lopez and Verdasco again failed to follow up an impressive sweep of the opening singles by Nadal and David Ferrer. They also lost in the semifinals against France, winning only three games. Their record together in Davis Cup stands at 7-6.

“Today was one of those days I’d like to forget,’’ Lopez said. “It was my worst ever Davis Cup match.’’

The Argentine section of fans was boisterous throughout, with Nalbandian volleying home the winner to break Lopez’s serve in the fifth game.

Argentina never has won in three previous final appearances, including 2008 when it lost to Spain in Mar del Plata.

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