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04 December 2011

Blog - Silence, por favor


NEWS ARTICLE

By 

  • Clive White

Photo: Sergio LlameraArgentine fans


It’s a moot point when sporting fans’ fervour overspills. Here in Seville, the 2,500 Argentine fans, although heavily outnumbered 10 to 1, have given their team marvellous support throughout the three days, but they haven’t always paid strict attention to tennis etiquette and their enthusiasm at times has given way to rank bad manners.

In their blue and white striped shirts they resembled more a crowd of fans following a team of Diego Maradona, than of Tito Vazquez. Certainly regular patrons of Wimbledon’s Centre Court would have been apoplectic about the way they occasionally interrupted play in the decisive fourth rubber between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.

In only the third game of the opening set play was twice delayed by the racket they made as the Spaniard prepared to serve and del Potro had to motion to them to quieten down. It eventually took a terrific comeback by Nadal in the second and third sets and ultimately the fourth to silence them.

Overall, though, they have added great colour and vibrance to the occasion and they were sporting in their acknowledgement of Nadal’s mighty performance, as were the Argentine team.



Kuhnen on scouting mission

Patrik Kuhnen, the German Davis Cup captain, was one of the interested onlookers at the Olympic Stadium in Seville, not just because of the three-time winner’s endearing love for the competition, but also to see how Argentina performs on clay because to the surprise of some the Germans have chosen to receive them on this surface in their World Group first round tie next year.

In fact, it was the first time since 1993, when he won the competition for the third time as a player for Germany against Australia, that he has been back to a Davis Cup Final. As for their reason for opting for a surface which Argentina have chosen the last three times they have hosted Germany, he said: “We had pretty intense talks about this with our team and the majority of the players wanted to play on clay.”

Florian Mayer, Germany’s highest ranked player at No. 23, has won a thousand points on the surface this year so it’s understandable, but it would have been interesting to know whether they would have had second thoughts had it been Argentina rather than Spain who triumphed in Seville on the red stuff.



Verdasco finds his calling

Fernando Verdasco’s contribution to this victory by Spain hasn’t always been as obvious as one might expect of a player of his ranking. He contributed a couple of points in the first-round win against Belgium, but since then, while always readily available, he hasn’t made a big impact alongside Feliciano Lopez in doubles. However, he found his forte during the fourth rubber of the Final when he became Spain’s unofficial cheer leader.

Lopez clearly isn’t a great watcher and seemed so nervous about Spain’s fate that it’s a wonder he didn’t retire to the safety of the locker rooms. Verdasco – as he did in Spain’s doubles defeat to David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank – was constantly urging the crowd to get behind the team and, in Nadal’s match against Juan Martin del Potro, it finally appeared to work.

Wearing a Spanish flag around his midriff Verdasco, who has slipped out of the Top 10 to No. 24 this year, was the first after the captain Albert Costa to congratulate Nadal upon his momentous victory. And when Lopez came in for criticism for his performance in the doubles – which was certainly no worse than Verdasco’s – he even became cheer leader in the press conference, imploring the journalists to applaud his partner's effort, which they did.



Rafa tips Delpo for top spot

Rafael Nadal believes that Juan Martin del Potro is a contender for the No. 1 ranking, adding that the Argentine, whom he beat in the decisive fourth rubber of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final in Seville, would be “unstoppable” next year, injuries permitting.

After leading Spain to its fifth Davis Cup title Nadal said of Del Potro, who is currently ranked No. 11 and missed most of 2010 after a wrist operation: “Del Potro is a fantastic player, as you can see on his record with two Davis Cup finals. But he will be a very good player. It's clear that he's a candidate for No. 1.

“He will be amongst the first four players in the world next year. We [David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco and himself] all agree on that. He's a very complete player. He doesn't have any cracks in his game: he's very solid. He will be unstoppable next year if the injury allows him.”

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    Clive White

    Clive started writing about sport at the 1966 World Cup final, since when, he says, it’s been all downhill... for England if not necessarily himself. He joined The Times at 21 before moving to the Sunday Telegraph where he provided worldwide coverage of tennis and football. As ghost writer to John McEnroe for six years, Clive learned that sport, far from being a matter of life and death, was, in fact, much more serious than that.

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