BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: In a nerve breaking doubles rubber, David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank overcame Croats Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic in 4 hours 59 minutes to give Argentina a lead 2-1 in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal tie at Parque Roca by 46 67(6) 63 67(6) 86.
In another long lasting match, the winners have earned their team what could be a vital lead going into the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday, which will first see Juan Martin del Potro take on Marin Cilic in the battle of the No. 1s.
The Tandil native, who felt better today after the sickness he suffered on Friday, leads his head-to-head series with Cilic 4-2, and he won their only previous encounter on clay last year, in Madrid.
The challenge for Cilic will be physical: he has played 10 hours in two days, but said he is ready for tomorrow even though he doesn’t feel at 100 percent.
In case the tie goes to a fifth rubber, Argentine captain Martin Jaite again announced his choice in advance: Juan Monaco will jump onto the court to play against Karlovic, who won their only previous match in Canada last year.
Argentines prevail in doubles
Nalbandian and Schwank had a hard time in each set as they had to recover from a break down in all of them except the last one, which, nonetheless, was far from heaven.
Based on a strong Karlovic and his powerful serve, the Croats looked in better shape than the locals and took the first set thanks to a break in the eighth game on Nalbandian’s serve.
The second set brought a turning point for Argentina. The same beginning, but a different outcome after the tiebreak.
Probably trailing the tiredness of the previous day five-setter against Cilic, it took almost two sets for Nalbandian to get into the match. His partner Schwank had a lot to do with that, as he clearly improved his level also pulling the Unquillo native.
Despite double faulting more than usual, Nalbandian could make the best out of it by increasing considerably his level at the decisive moments. However, the Croats never surrendered and fought until the end, even when Cilic was understandably diminished physically.
“I feel good, happy. The conditions were a bit strange. It was windy and they served well. We played with heart and the people cheered us up all the time. I hope we can win one more match,” said Nalbandian, whose job came to an end unless something unexpected happens.
On the other hand, Cilic admitted: “I feel sad, but I think we played well, we gave our best and we have to accept things the way they are. I also think that the crowd helped the Argentine team to remain close in the fifth set.”
The fans at Parque Roca understood that the doubles rubber is often pivotal in Davis Cup and they said ‘Here we are’. After an emotional end of the match they shouted the name of the captain as a symbol of victory.
“It was very emotional for me and I thank the fans, but I know that they did that because the players won. So I have to say thanks to my players too,” said Jaite.
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David Nalbandian (ARG) - 07/04/2012
Captain Martin Jaite (ARG) - 07/04/2012
Marin Cilic (CRO) - 07/04/2012