Round: World Group Final
Dates: 3 - 5 December, 2004
Venue: Estadio Olimpico De Sevilla
A generation without replacement?
When Spain met USA in the 2004 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final, the strength of the Spanish generation of tennis players that had been so successful throughout the late 90´s and early 00´s was starting to wane.
Some of its more prestigious players like Alex Corretja or Albert Costa were very close to retirement. Others like Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero seemed to have their best tennis years already behind them.
The general impression was that, despite the big number of young Spanish players, the level of the country’s tennis could plummet if none of them managed to fulfil their potential.
That year’s final looked balanced. Both the Spanish and the American teams had one Top 5 player in their line-up. In the Spanish case, it was world number 5 Carlos Moya and in the American case, world number 2 Andy Roddick.
Who’s that boy?
The choice of number two player for the individual matches looked obvious for the Spanish team, the 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. However, the captain Jordi Arrese, made a decision that would turn out to be decisive.
Arrese chose to give the responsibility to an 18-year-old unknown player from Majorca who had already played an important role in the road to the final. His name was Rafael Nadal Parera.
The first singles match went as expected given the distance in the rankings between Carlos Moyá (5) and Mardy Fish (37). The Spaniard gained an easy win on the clay of the Estadio Olímpico of Seville.
Andy Roddick was clearly the favourite for the second match. The American had reached the Wimbledon final and had also lifted the trophy in four ATP tournaments that year. On the other side, the young Rafael Nadal looked like a promising player but still very far from the level of a Grand Slam champion like Roddick.
The match was very even and two of the sets finished in a tie-break, but to the astonishment of the crowd the boy from Majorca defeated the American 67(6) 62 76(6) 62. The name of Rafael Nadal made the headlines for the first time.
The path to victory
Spain only needed one more point to wrap up the title but the next match was the double, the classic weak spot of the Spanish team.
The already legendary couple formed by the twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan crushed 06 36 26 the Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo to keep the United States Davis Cup team alive until the third day.
The first match of the last day was the star clash of the final. The two number ones of each team would go head to head.
Carlos Moyá had made it clear that the Davis Cup final was the most important moment of his career and that he was going to give the maximum in order to lift the trophy. But the former number one from Majorca had never beaten Andy Roddick in any of their previous matches and his performance under so much pressure was uncertain.
The Spaniard won the first two sets and was capable of holding his nerves when the second match ball arrived in the tie-break of the third set. “I had always thought that I wouldn’t be able to serve a match ball of a Davis Cup Final, but I haven´t noticed any pressure! The truth is that I still cannot explain the emotions that I´ve lived”.
Old and new sensations
The 2004 final made it clear that Spain did not only have an excellent present with a champion like Carlos Moyá but also an impressive future in the hands of Rafael Nadal.
The unknown boy from the little Spanish village of Manacor became the youngest Davis Cup champion in history and started to raise expectations among the fans, expectations that he would clearly exceed over the following years. “It´s an amazing way of finishing this year” he declared after the final.
The other Majorcan, Carlos Moyá, finally achieved the trophy that he had pursued for his entire career – “I have reached my biggest goal, my biggest dream.”