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03 December 2011

Doubles win keeps tie alive for Argentina



  • Chris Archer

Photo: Sergio LlameraArgentine bench

SEVILLE, SPAIN: Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco missed out on the chance to seal victory for Spain at the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final, as they were completely outplayed by the Argentine pairing of David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank.

Davis Cup seems to bring out the best in Nalbandian and so it proved once again. The veteran teamed up with Schwank to defeat a below-par Lopez and Verdasco 64 62 63 in just under two hours.

The result leaves the Final well poised heading into Sunday, when Nadal and del Potro are scheduled to meet in the first of the reverse singles rubbers. If the tie goes the distance then it's expected that Nalbandian will come into the line-up, replacing Juan Monaco, to take on David Ferrer.

As it happened...

ARGENTINA WINS 6-4 6-2 6-3

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-6 3-6 Nalbandian/Schwank
Great returning from Schwank helps the Argentines to their first match point at 30-40, and they only need one chance when, fittingly, Verdasco dumps a forehand volley in the net. A very poor performance from Lopez and Verdasco, but take nothing away from a very impressive display from Nalbandian and Schwank. Great result for the neutral. Game on tomorrow!

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 2-6 3-5 Nalbandian/Schwank
A beautifully flighted backhand topspin lob from Verdasco gets the Spaniards back to 30-40, and then we head to deuce when Schwank nets a weak forehand. Verdasco has lifted his game now and is doing his best to lift the Spanish crowd as well, waving his arms in a gesture for them to increase the volume. It's not enough, though, as Schwank finally holds serve on the fourth game point.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-6 3-4 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Half chance there for the Argentines. At 30-30, a second serve return from Schwank was sent in the direction of the waiting Lopez, who dispatched the volley. A nice pick-up from Verdasco, which went for a winner down Schwank's line, gives the Spaniards a hold.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 2-6 2-4 Nalbandian/Schwank
Two missed volleys from Schwank allow the Spaniards to level at 30-30. What a shot. Take a bow David Nalbandian. The veteran fires a forehand down the middle that dissects the Spanish pair and hands the Argentines a game point. Not taken. A long game ensues and Nalbandian finally holds when Schwank angles a forehand volley away. Massive game in the context of this match. Lopez and Verdasco let two break points slip by the wayside. Still, it certainly lifted the home crowd.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-6 2-3 *Nalbandian/Schwank
The Spanish pair race into a 40-0 lead with Verdasco trying his best to get fired up, turning to Lopez after each point with a clenched fist. An error from each of them let the Argentines back in, but Verdasco finishes off a smash to reduce the deficit once more to one game.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 2-6 1-3 Nalbandian/Schwank
Lopez swings his racket in frustration after missing a half volley that could have got the Spanish pair back to deuce. Schwank had given them a chance by netting a forehand volley at 40-15. Another hold for the Argentines.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-6 1-2 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Verdasco holds to keep the Spanish pair within striking distance. If you want to listen to this match then the Davis Cup Radio boys - Craig Gabriel, Chris Bowers and Eli Weinstein - are broadcasting live commentary on our website.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 2-6 0-2 Nalbandian/Schwank
Nalbandian and Schwank continue to ride the wave as Nalbandian notches up another love service game. The final point saw Lopez net a forehand return. The Spanish pair need to get their act together quickly, otherwise we'll be heading into Sunday at 2-1.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-6 0-1 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Disaster for Spain as they let a 30-0 lead slip, losing four points in a row to throw away the first game. At 30-40, Lopez fired a big serve down the middle that looked at first like it was an ace, but umpire Carlos Ramos came down from his chair and closer inspection of the clay showed that it landed just out. The delay unsettled Lopez and his second serve barely made it half way up the net.


Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 2-6 0-0 Nalbandian/Schwank
A deft backhand drop volley from Nalbandian followed by a powerful smash from Schwank put the Argentines 30-15 ahead. Then Verdasco can't quite reach a wide volley that Nalbandian bounces out of the court. Two sets points, but only one is required when Verdasco misses another return. Mountain to climb for the Spanish pair.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 2-5 *Nalbandian/Schwank
A welcome respite for the Spaniards. Lopez holds to love when Schwank nets an easy volley at 40-0. The away fans inside the Olympic Stadium are loving this performance from their two players, but to be fair the Spanish crowd are making plenty of noice as well. Good atmosphere.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 1-5 Nalbandian/Schwank
Hard to tell that this is a first Davis Cup outing as a partnership for Nalbandian and Schwank. They've been impressive. The Spaniards win the first point on Nalbandian's serve in that game, but the former Wimbledon finalist reels off four big ones, finishing off with an ace.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 1-4 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Better from the Spanish duo. Lopez punches a solid forehand volley away for a winner to open up a 40-0 lead, but then he misses an almost identical one on the next point. No problem, a Schwank return sails just long a moment later to get the hosts off the mark in this set.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 0-4 Nalbandian/Schwank
Schwank delivers a great change of pace on his first serve at 30-15, kicking a slow one out wide that totally deceives Lopez. Ace. Verdasco misses from the baseline on the next point the Argentine dominance continues.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 0-3 *Nalbandian/Schwank
The Spanish pair are in all sorts of trouble now. Lopez drops his serve to give the Argentines a double break. At 30-40, Nalbandian drilled a return down the line at Verdasco and it popped up off the net cord, causing the Spaniard to take a wild double handed swing at it. Needless to say he didn't get it back. Verdasco really has had a shocker so far, struggling for any kind of rhythm.

Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 0-2 Nalbandian/Schwank
Nalbandian steps up at 30-40 and cracks a big ace out wide. Oh dear, Verdasco misses a smash on top of the net at deuce after doing all the hard work. He retrieved a drop volley from Schwank and then when the resulting lob came his way he sent the overhead flying long. On game point, Lopez nets a second serve return to let Nalbandian out of jail.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-6 0-1 *Nalbandian/Schwank
As is his style, Verdasco persists with serving and staying back, and this time he pays for it dearly. Both Argentine players prove too solid from the baseline and three successive forehand errors from Verdasco, after leading 30-15, provide an early break of serve.


Lopez/Verdasco* 4-6 0-0 Nalbandian/Schwank
Nervy from Schwank. He hits an ugly volley at 30-15, dumping it into the bottom of the net, but he appears to get away with it when Verdasco's return floats just long on the next point. Another Schwank error let's the Spanish pair back to deuce and they celebrate with a Bryan brothers style chest bump. Nalbandian, maybe sensing his partner's tension, makes a brave interception to set up a second set point, and this time Lopez nets the return to give first blood to the Argentines.

Lopez/Verdasco 4-5 *Nalbandian/Schwank
One good return each from the Argentines get them to 30-30, but Lopez earns a game point with a solid backhand volley which he places down the line for a winner. It looks like we're heading to deuce when Nalbandian middles a glorious backhand return cross court, only it lands an inch wide. Game to Spain.

Lopez/Verdasco* 3-5 Nalbandian/Schwank
Nalbandian's second ace opens up a 40-0 lead. He then tries to repeat the feat with a second serve, only for it to miss the sideline by a whisker, and the gap closes again when he nets a first volley to make it 40-30. No problem for the man from Cordoba. A heavy first serve forces Lopez to miss the return.

Lopez/Verdasco 3-4 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Nalbandian unleashes a ferocious backhand straight at Lopez at 30-15, but the Spaniard is equal to it and produces a fantastic reaction volley. The Argentines pull one point back after a good return from Schwank, then Nalbandian fails to get Verdasco's serve back at 40-30.

Lopez/Verdasco* 2-4 Nalbandian/Schwank
This has been a great start for the Argentines. Just what they needed after the disappointment of going 0-2 down yesterday. Schwank completes another hold to love with an unreturnable serve at 40-0. There is a constant noise from the crowd - singing, cheering and music - which prompts umpire Carlos Ramos to call for order. He might be fighting losing a battle with that one! 

Lopez/Verdasco 2-3 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Nervy start to the game from Lopez. He's a natural serve-volleyer, but this time he dumps his first two volleys in the net to go down 0-30. A winning return from Schwank gives the Argentines three break points. The first one is missed, but Schwank dips another excellent return onto Lopez's toes and the Spaniard coughs it up straight to the waiting Nalbandian. We have our first break of serve. High five from the Argentines.

Lopez/Verdasco* 2-2 Nalbandian/Schwank
Quick hold for Nalbandian. He opens by staying back, like Verdasco was doing in the previous game, and it pays off as he out-rallies Verdasco from the baseline. At 40-0 Nalbandian nails their first ace of the match, out wide, to seal a comfortable game.

Lopez/Verdasco 2-1 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Verdasco adopts the slightly unusual tactic - although it's becoming more and more popular in the modern game - of staying at the back after both his first and second serves. The downside to this is that it often allows the opposition into the point. Safe hold this time though. Verdasco pushes a forehand wide at 40-15, but Lopez mops up an interception on the next point.

Lopez/Verdasco* 1-1 Nalbandian/Schwank
The Spanish pair had a sniff in that game. They had Schwank at 15-30, but a Nalbandian interception followed by two missed returns get the Argentines off the mark. Both pairs are standing back to return off the first serve. I think we'll see a lot of that this afternoon.

Lopez/Verdasco 1-0 *Nalbandian/Schwank
Good start for the Spaniards as Lopez holds to love. He opens with a bomb down the middle and Verdasco polishes the point off at the net with a smash that bounces out of the court. Three more quick points and they're changing ends.

We're just about ready to start. I should mention that a few moments ago Spain's Emilio Sanchez picked up the Davis Cup Award of Excellence, an annual award given out to someone who has given outstanding service to the competition and to the game as a whole. Congrats Emilio... well deserved. Here we go then, Lopez to serve first for Spain.

The players take to the court for their warm-up. Lopez and Verdasco to the right of the chair wearing red tops and white shorts, and Nalbandian and Schwank all in white. It's actually getting louder, and louder... is that possible? This match really looks too close to call. The Spaniards have more experience playing together, but the Argentines both know their way around a doubles court.

Welcome back to the Davis Cup Final. Sunny day here in Seville, although I won't being catching many rays as the tie is being played under a temporary roof inside the Olympic Stadium. Another cracking atmosphere, just like yesterday. The Argentine fans, who are here in great numbers, are once again in fine voice. We've still got a good few mins until we get under way but they're all bouncing around, singing, whistling, and generally making a racket... great scenes.

David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank (ARG) - 03/12/2011

Captain Tito Vazquez (ARG) - 03/12/2011

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    • Argentine benchR3: Nalbandian/Schwank v Lopez/Verdasco
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    Olympic Stadium, Seville, Spain

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    Chris Archer

    Based in London, Chris started his working life in tennis at the LTA before joining the ITF in 2009 as web editor for and His love affair of Davis Cup began in 1999 when, as a fan, he attended the epic World Group tie between Great Britain and USA in Birmingham… GB lost 3-2, so close yet so far!




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