OROPESA DEL MAR, SPAIN: It was a routine day at the office for Spain as Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer had little trouble in seeing off Jurgen Melzer and Andreas Haider-Maurer respectively to give the hosts a 2-0 lead at the end of the opening day’s play in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal in Marina d’Or.
“I was a little surprised how easy it was for us today, I was expecting especially in the first match for it to be more difficult but it didn’t happen, lucky us, you need to be ready for the big fight and then if it’s easier it’s better for you,” said Spanish captain Alex Corretja.
The Spanish No. 1 and 2 were never troubled, cruising through their matches in straight sets to put the defending champions within touching distance of a place in the semifinals for the fourth time in five years.
Almagro and Melzer took to the court first on Friday with the Austrians hoping that their No. 1 and former Roland Garros semifinalist could recreate the kind of form which took him to a career-best ranking of No. 8 last year and give the visitors the first point. Definite underdogs for this tie, the Austrian’s knew that Melzer was their main hope against a Spanish side which boasted two players in the Top 12.
From the outset the Spanish world No. 12 meant business, holding three break points in the opening game, all of which he failed to convert. He didn't waste such an opportunity in Melzer's second service game however, securing the break on his first opportunity.
From then on in it was one-way traffic for the Spaniard, who allowed the lefthander just one more game in the opening set before going on a seven-game winning streak which took in the first set in just 33 minutes.
Almagro's power and control continued throughout the second set and he never looked troubled. Melzer made too many errors and was unable to put his opponent under any kind of pressure, failing to find any kind of response to Almagro’s pace and penetrating shots, in particular his single-handed backhand, and solid serving.
The third set started in the same vein as the second with Almagro seizing the early break, much to the Austrian's frustration. More of a respectable scoreline ensued but it was a disappointing start for the visitors in what should have been a much tighter affair, Almagro running away the winner 62 62 64 in one hour 56 minutes.
“It was an extremely difficult match because of the deep surface that the Spanish made,” said Melzer. “I tried everything to find a way past him but he was extremely strong today. My match was the one we thought we had the biggest chance to win and now we need a wonder.”
“I’m very happy with my match today, I think I played one of my best matches in Davis Cup,” explained Almagro. “The score was easy but the match wasn’t. I had to fight for every point and I think I was more focussed than him. I beat a great player in a great competition like Davis Cup so I’m very happy.”
Ferrer demonstrated why he is the world No. 5, making short work of Austria’s No. 2 Haider-Maurer 61 63 61 in just one hour 25 minutes.
There was a definite gulf in class between the two players and Ferrer was never tested, recording a straightforward win to take his Davis Cup singles record in Spain to 13-0.
Haider-Maurer hadn’t played a match since a Challenger tournament in February and found himself a break down after the opening game. Ferrer’s pace and array of shots proved too much for the world No. 139, who conceded the first set after just 28 minutes. The Austrian produced some better form in the second set, even managing to claim a break back after a loose service game from his opponent at 5-2, but that was as close as it got.
There was evidence to suggest a bagel could be on the cards in the final set as Ferrer strolled to a 5-0 lead but there was some fight left in Haider-Maurer, getting a game for the visitors just before the Spaniard closed out the victory with his first match point.
“I won relatively easily and am happy with my game today,” said Ferrer. “Maybe the opponent played a little bit bad and made many mistakes but I played very solid and consistent.”
“Our boys tried their best but Almagro and Ferrer played really good matches,” said Austrian captain Clemens Trimmel. “I hoped that on the first day it would be a bit more close but unfortunately it wasn’t so I’m pretty disappointed. As long as the third point isn’t won for Spain then we are still alive and we have chances.”
Follow this tie with live scoring and live streaming:
- Live scores
- Watch live
Captain Alex Corretja (ESP) - 06/04/2012
Captain Clemens Trimmel (AUT) - 06/04/2012
David Ferrer (ESP) - 06/04/2012