BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Argentina whitewashed Romania in first day's action in Buenos Aires as Juan Monaco defeated Victor Hanescu 76(5) 16 61 61 to give his country a lead of 2-0 in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie. David Nalbandian, suffering from painful injuries, had won his point against Adrian Ungur 63 62 57 64 in the opening rubber.
Argentina could seal victory tomorrow in the doubles match, in which Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank will take on Romanians Hanescu and Horia Tecau. The Argentine team are former Wimbledon semifinalists, while Hanescu-Tecau have recently won the title in Acapulco.
The tears of the king
Nalbandian fullfiled the expectations in Buenos Aires and gave Argentina the lead, but the job wasn’t that easy. Troubled by a hernia and an adductor injury, the Argentine player ended up crying after a tremendous effort, which also earned him a standing ovation from his own crowd.
“I can’t walk a single step," he said in an interview with the local media afterwards. "I thought I would be in better shape, but I have felt really bad since the first set. I could finish the match because this is Davis Cup.
"If it was a tournament from the tour, I would have retired in the second set. But here, I play for my country, with my people supporting me and that is a great motivation."
Despite his physical problems, Nalbandian managed to overcome his opponent in three hours and four minutes. After a close first set, where the Argentine No. 1 saved seven break-points, Nalbandian found his pace and reached an important win.
Nalbandian is now the second-placed Argentine in terms of the most singles and doubles rubbers won in Davis Cup, overtaking Jose-Luis Clerc. The only Argentine player with more wins than Nalbandian in both singles and doubles combined is Guillermo Vilas.
As everybody knows, Davis Cup matches are usually different stories from the tour. And maybe that is why the 164 ranking-point gap between world No. 19 Nalbandian and No. 183 Ungur seemed to be, in fact, a bit smaller.
During the changeover after winning the first set, Nalbandian discussed some physical difficulties with his own physiotherapist and the team trainer, who were behind the bench. He was clear about playing under some pain in certain moments. “It kills me,” he said.
In the second set, the Argentine player adjusted his serve so that it allowed him to put pressure on the return. Nalbandian broke twice and put the second set in his pocket. But speedy Ungur put the Argentine in trouble again when converted his first of 11 break-points to win the third set.
Although the pain was worse minute by minute for Nalbandian, with an early break of serve in the fourth set, signs of pain and an enormous fighting spirit, he kept the victory and the first point for Argentina.
“Matches like this are not normal. I’ve never felt that bad. But when you play in Davis Cup for your country, with almost a full stadium, it’s impossible to leave the court. Today, something from inside myself help me to win the match,” added Nalbandian to daviscup.com.
Long-awaited win for Monaco
In the second match of the day, Monaco caught a win he had awaited for too long. Today’s match was just his second live rubber at home, and he collected a victory that gave Argentina a vital lead.
“I feel very happy for my win and for David’s. We knew it was going to be very difficult. It was a very long day, but a happy one”, said ‘Pico’.
After winning a very close first set in a tiebreak full of nerves, Monaco lost intensity in his game and was a victim of Hanescu’s powerful serve. “I lost my focus, but then I came back in the third, broke twice and finally won the match”, added Monaco, who was also very emotional at the end, like Nalbandian.
The Argentine captain, Tito Vazquez, lost his voice, but he was happy with the score. “After the matches are over and the score is 2-0 in your favour the sensations are pleasant. We are in a better position than at the start of the tie. Obviously, we have to go one step at a time and play every single match”, said the captain.
Bad sensations for the Romanian team
“It is not a good sensation to be 2-0 behind the first day. I’m a little bit sad, because I think we had pretty good chances, with all the respect for Argentine players. Victor has to set his mind together. I think we’re favourites in doubles. The plan is still the same,” said Romanian captain Andrei Pavel.
Hanescu showed himself disapointed after his lost against Monaco. “I knew it was going to be difficult. It was a pity I lost a close first set. Then I won easy the second. He was lucky in the beginning of the third set and then I lost the rhythm, the focus on the game. I feel a bit tired right now, but I’m going to be ready for tomorrow’s match”, said Romanian No. 1.
Juan Monaco (ARG) - 04/03/2011
Captain Tito Vazquez (ARG) - 04/03/2011
David Nalbandian (ARG) - 04/03/2011