AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA: Home court advantage didn’t give USA a leg up on Spain on the first day of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal action. When the teams retired to their respective hotels on Friday evening, Spain had swept the opening two rubbers to take a 2-0 edge.
Playing in the U.S. didn’t work in Mardy Fish’s favour. He fought a tough battle against fellow recent Wimbledon quarterfinalist Feliciano Lopez, but suffered a 46 63 36 76(2) 86 loss.
Playing in his hometown of Austin, Texas, didn’t deliver good fortune for Andy Roddick either. The former US Open champion couldn’t hold up against the dogged David Ferrer, who scored a 76(9) 75 63 win.
“I have too much respect for Ferrer to act like I’m stunned,” Roddick said. “The guy is six in the world for a reason. He played well. I thought I played pretty well for the first two sets, but the third set got away from me a little bit… He beat me tonight.”
There was much talk leading up to this tie about the fast hard court surface the Americans selected – they were hoping it would come off feeling like a slippery ice skating rink to the Spaniards. But, at least after the first day of play, the Spanish team seemed to adjust well to the court without having ice skates strapped on their feet.
“Of course, this is not our best surface,” said Albert Costa, the Spanish captain. “We never (would) choose this surface at home. But these guys are very good. They have the talent to play in all kind of surfaces…. But we have to know that still is a lot of work to do. Nothing is over yet, for sure. So we have to fight a lot.”
The last time USA came back from 0-2 down was against Australia in 1934, which proves how difficult it is to climb out of such a deficit. But the lack of success on the opening day – and history not in the American corner – has not dashed the hopes of the American team to turn the tie around.
“Obviously it’s an uphill battle,” Roddick said. “We’re not going to be the favorites down 0-2. (But) we’re not out of this.”
Courier also spoke with confidence that his team could still deliver the win. The starting point will be with the world No. 1 Bryan brothers facing Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in Saturday’s doubles.
“Obviously, we would prefer the score be reversed,” Courier said. “We have a job to do the rest of the way. Bob and Mike will be ready to put us into Sunday tomorrow.”
For many countries the Spanish lineup would be considered the “A” team considering their rankings. But for Spain it could be considered the “B” team with Rafael Nadal not on this squad. However, it is worth noting that in 2008 this exact team of Lopez, Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers picked up the Davis Cup title over Argentina in Mar del Plata.
Ferrer punishes Roddick’s missed chances
It was a tale of missed opportunities for Roddick against Ferrer. He squandered leads in each of the first two sets – 5-3 in the first and 3-0 in the second – and missed seven set points to take the opener.
The first set tiebreak was key to the match, in particular when Roddick had set point at 6-5. A Ferrer shot was called out, but Costa was certain the ball was in. “He hit the ball and I saw that the ball was good. He (Ferrer) was not complaining, not saying nothing. I yelled to him, ‘David you have to challenge.’”
It was a good call by Costa. The ball was indeed in and instead of Roddick taking the first set on that point, Ferrer evened the score to 6-6 and went on to take the set.
Ferrer, armed with a gritty game, kept pressing Roddick, which was not an easy task as he had to overlook the clearly rollicking pro-Roddick crowd.
Lopez stays tough to outlast Fish
As for Lopez’s victory, this was the first time that he’s played a five set match in Davis Cup, and his five set career win-loss record is now 14-8.
It took Lopez two minutes shy of four hours to give Spain the first point of the weekend by defeating Fish for the first time since October 2008. The American had won their last three matches, but with this result Lopez has leveled their series at 3-3.
“I'm so happy,” Lopez said. “To win this match today is a very important win for me and for the team. I think we have much better chances now, looking on the tie, how we see it now, rather than losing the first point.
“There's nothing that really made the difference when you are fighting after four hours or so. I was maybe a little bit more aggressive at the end. I don't know. But when you are 6‑all in the fifth, anything can happen. Anybody can win, to be honest.”
Fish was terribly disappointed by the loss, saying, “Obviously, you want to win. That’s the toughest thing, just having to go back in the locker room and see everyone, you know, feel like you let ‘em down.”
But he also said it was an incredible crowd to play for even the match didn’t go his way. “It's probably the best atmosphere match I've ever played in,” he said, “it's incredible. I mean, it just gives you goose bumps.
“(At) 4‑5 in the fifth, something like that, and Jim (Courier) and I looked at each other. I said, ‘do you miss this?’ He said, ‘this is Davis Cup. This is why we play the game.’”
- Follow on: Live scores
- Watch live at: DavisCup.tv
Captain Albert Costa (ESP) - 08/07/2011
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) - 08/07/2011
David Ferrer (ESP) - 08/07/2011
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 08/07/2011
Mardy Fish (USA) - 08/07/2011
Andy Roddick (USA) - 08/07/2011