Unlike against Serbia in the World Group semifinals, Tito Vazquez is keeping his powder dry against Spain in the final. In Belgrade, Argentina’s captain opened up with both his big guns – Juan Martin del Potro and David Nalbandian – in the hope that the injured Novak Djokovic would be in no fit state to give of his best after a transatlantic dash from the US Open. In the event, the world No. 1 sat out the opening day’s play. Against Spain, that kind of tactic is unlikely to work and as a result Juan Monaco has been given the role of sacrificial lamb in the opening rubber against Rafael Nadal.
Argentina have focussed their efforts on winning three rubbers – the second, third and fifth. If del Potro fails to beat David Ferrer on day one then the game could up be for Tito’s men. But if he wins – and he has won their last two meetings, albeit on hard courts – then Argentina will be looking to square the tie in the doubles which they are more than capable of doing. Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank haven’t played much together and in fact were last coupled three years ago but they must have at least a 50-50 chance against Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, who have lost 10 of their last 11 matches.
Assuming the Argentine pair win and Nadal proves too much for del Potro on clay in the first of the reverse singles it will be all down to the last rubber when, providing he has recovered from his exertions on Saturday, Nalbandian will almost certainly be asked to win the Davis Cup for Argentina against Ferrer. Nalbandian managed to beat Ferrer three years ago in the Final in Mar del Plata but that was on an indoor hard court and this will be a on a surface on which Ferrer has few masters. Whichever way you look at it, Argentina have it all to do.
Rafael Nadal has talked a lot recently about his tiredness and the exhausting demands of a long season. However, it was probably just as well the Spanish No. 1 declined to re-emphasise the point at the draw for the Davis Cup Final, which was held at a well known theatre in Seville.
The Teatro Lope de Vega, a beautiful little baroque-style theatre, is named after the famous 16th Century Spanish playwright who is second only to Cervantes in importance but second to no-one in terms of output. With over 3,000 sonnets and 1,800 plays to his name, Lope de Vega was one of the most prolific authors in Western literature – and as far as can be gleaned he never once complained about tiredness.
Living in a bubble?
The modern day millionaire sportsman is often accused of living in a bubble, but Spain’s tennis players readily admit to doing so – quite literally. During this Davis Cup Final they will be living a pure air bubble apparatus called a Zonair3D to help aid their recovery.
Novak Djokovic used a hyperbaric chamber during his US Open victory in September, which was said “to simulate high altitude and compress the muscles at rhythmic intervals”.
Nadal was at pains to point out that theirs was not a recovery chamber. “You only breathe fresh air in the bubble,” he said. “We feel comfortable in it. We have used it for a long time. We like it and its use, and it works well for us.”
Nadal and company have always seemed too grounded to be accused of livin in a bubble. Why, the world No. 2 has even been known to take flights on easyJet.