BAMBERG, GERMANY: Argentina took a big step towards the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals by taking a 2-0 lead on the opening day thanks to wins from Juan Monaco and David Nalbandian in the first two singles rubbers.
Monaco gave the 2011 finalists the first point with a straight-sets victory over Philipp Petzschner 63 63 63. Argentine veteran Nalbandian followed suit later on Friday, coming back from a set down to defeat German No. 1 Florian Mayer 26 60 61 76(5).
To stay alive in the tie, the three-time champions Germany must take Saturday’s doubles rubber with Petzschner due to team up with Tommy Haas against the Argentina duo of Eduardo Schwank and Juan Ignacio Chela.
“The first point is always very important. It gives us more confidence. And David Nalbandian played a great match. But we still need one more point to win the tie,” said Argentina captain Martin Jaite.
“We want to put this day behind us and wake up with new courage and go into the doubles. We just want to stay in the race tomorrow,” said German captain Patrik Kuhnen.
In the opener, Monaco finished off Petzschner in 2 hours 3 minutes on his second match point with the German hitting a backhand into the net.
“This feels great. It’s a tough time so to win the first match gives us a lot of confidence,” said Monaco. “It was a perfect match for me. Maybe I expected more from him but I don’t think it was his day. He didn’t serve very well as he does normally.”
In the first set, Monaco jumped out to 4-0 lead thanks to two breaks, converting his first two break points. Petzschner immediately pulled back one of the breaks and held to make it 4-2.
Monaco held his next two service games to take the first frame 6-3 on his first set point.
Petzschner shook off two break points in holding serve to take the first game of the second set and went up 3-2 after fending off another two Monaco break points.
The German was visually frustrated not being able to break the next game and lost the seventh and eighth games to love and Monaco converted his first break point to grab the second set at 6-3 as well.
Both players held serve with Monaco leading 3-2 and the Argentine snagged two break points in the sixth game, converting the second to move ahead 4-2. Petzschner fended off one match point in the eighth game to hold serve. But Monaco held his service the next game to take the first rubber.
“I was frustrated throughout the whole match. I was feeling good and practised well. But I did not play a good match though my teammates and captain said it was not that bad,” said Petzschner. “I gave him a lot of confidence at the beginning by missing a lot of my shots. He played a solid match and didn’t miss a lot of shots.”
In the second singles, Mayer jumped ahead two breaks for a 4-0 lead before Nalbandian finally won his first game. But the German did not give up his service game in the first set and took the frame 6-2 with an ace.
Nalbandian stormed back into the game and took the second set 6-0 and Mayer offered little resistance in the third frame, dropping it 6-1. Mayer finally got back into the encounter in the fourth game and broke for a 2-0 lead and held for a 3-0 gap. Nalbandian held twice and pulled even with a break to get within 4-3 and then held yet again for a 4-4 scoreline.
The fourth set went to a tiebreaker where Nalbandian went up a mini-break with the first point before surging ahead 4-0. The lead was 6-1 before Mayer fended off four match points. But Nalbandian used his fifth match point, hitting a backhand winner after 2 hours 33 minutes.
“Both Juan and I played good matches. I didn’t start very good but after the first set I started playing more aggressive and my shots were getting deeper and better and I controlled the games in the second and third sets. In the fourth set he fought me until the end,” said Nalbandian, who improved to 3-1 against Mayer.
“I can’t blame myself at all. I played a good match but he was better today. I fought back from the two middle sets and gave my all,” said Mayer.
Argentina, who are without world No. 10 Juan Martin del Potro this weekend, is looking to return to the final – and, if possible, to win the title after reaching the final four times.
Germany and Argentina have an extensive history - this is their eighth meeting dating back to 1936 and most recently, 2003. Argentina leads 5-2, and is undefeated on clay against the Germans, the surface for this tie.
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