BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Argentina have whitewashed Kazakhstan to put themselves in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Every member of the team contributed a point, but it was Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank who clinched the vital third point by overcoming Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin 63 62 75 in the doubles rubber on Friday.
In a much warmer day than yesterday, the Argentine team broke decisively to lead 6-5 in the third set, and Schwank held his nerve despite facing a break point on his service game. He sealed the win on his fourth match point.
Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco both registered clinical wins on the opening day, overcoming Mikhail Kukushkin and Andrey Golubev respectively. Argentina will face either Sweden at home, or Serbia away in September’s semifinals.
Fast and furious
If the tie between Argentina and Kazakhstan would be a film, for sure it could be part of the ‘Fast and furious’ saga. Just as it happened in the first round tie against Romania last March, the home team enjoyed an easy weekend with a great display of tennis.
In this sense, the numbers are very clear: Argentina have only lost 22 games in the first two days of action at Parque Roca, the best result since the 2008 first round tie against Great Britain, in the same venue when the home team lost only 20 games.
“At the end of the day everything was easier than expected. Definitely we’re looking forward to playing in the semifinals. I think it will be against last year’s champions, Serbia, and we’ll see if we can give a surprise and get closer to what we want, that is to win the Davis Cup one day”, said Argentina’s captain Tito Vazquez.
It is the seventh time Argentina has reached the semifinals of Davis Cup in the last ten consecutive years in the World Group.
At the age of 31, Chela is enjoying the great moment of his career, not only in the ATP World Tour, but also in Davis Cup. Partnering Schwank for the second time this year, the Ciudad Evita native gave Argentina the decisive point. ‘The Torino’, an old Argentine car model that captain Vazquez used to describe him, is still running and ruling.
“I’m almost 32 and for me is great to keep playing. I love this sport, it is my passion and I enjoy it a lot," said Chela, who will turn 32 in August. “I’m really happy to be in the team again and I think we played a great match today. Even though the final set was a bit tough, we won in straight sets and gave the point to Argentina."
Schwank and Chela combine experience and youth, an interesting and useful mix for the Argentine team. They seem to be the pairing that captain Vazquez has been looking for, after Schwank and Horacio Zeballos stopped playing together. And what’s more, they are going to be partners at the US Open, right before the semifinal tie.
Shaldunov happy anyway
Despite the weather, Kazakhstan surely had a better time off court than on court. It might not have been the weekend they expected, but captain Yegor Shaldunov showed himself happy with his boys.
“We played three intense matches. My team did a good job, we prepared for the tie seriously. It was too difficult to beat Argentina. We tried, but we weren’t so lucky. We had a few break points today, but we couldn’t take them," he said.
“This is the end of a job that started last year when we qualified to play in the World Group. We had a good result against Czech Republic and next year we’ll try to get more out of this," added Shaldunov.
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Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) - 08/07/2011
Captain Yegor Shaldunov (KAZ) - 08/07/2011
Captain Tito Vazquez (ARG) - 08/07/2011