SEVILLE, SPAIN: Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Argentina’s Juan Monaco will face each other in the opening rubber of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final, which gets under way on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Seville.
David Ferrer then meets Juan Martin del Potro in the second rubber, while Saturday’s doubles match sees Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco take on David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank.
The draw ceremony took place at the Teatro Lope de Vega, a picturesque theatre in the centre of Seville, on Thursday. The full draw is listed below.
Friday - play starts at 14:00 (13:00 GMT)
R1: Rafael Nadal v Juan Monaco
R2: David Ferrer v Juan Martin del Potro
Saturday - play starts at 16:00 (15:00 GMT)
R3: Feliciano Lopez / Fernando Verdasco v David Nalbandian / Eduardo Schwank
Sunday - play starts at 13:00 (12:00 GMT)
R4: Rafael Nadal v Juan Martin del Potro
R5: David Ferrer v Juan Monaco
There were no surprises when Spanish captain Albert Costa announced his line-up for the weekend, with world No. 2 Nadal and world No. 5 Ferrer forming a formidable partnership on the singles court and the regular pairing of Lopez and Verdasco teaming up in doubles, but the Argentine team is more intriguing.
Costa’s opposite number, the wily Tito Vazquez, elected to bring in Schwank to replace the originally nominated Juan Ignacio Chela, and the doubles specialist goes straight into the side to partner Nalbandian.
The other big decision for Vazquez was who to pick behind del Potro as the second singles player, Monaco or Nalbandian. The Argentine captain went for Monaco on day one, but it would be no surprise if Nalbandian appears in the fifth rubber, should the tie go the distance.
Nadal and Monaco will be playing each other for the fourth time when they meet on Friday. The Spaniard has won their only two matches on clay in straight sets, but the Argentine did record a victory, of sorts, at the Cincinnati Masters in 2007 when Nadal was forced to retire injured in the second set.
Despite having the pressure well and truly on his shoulders, Nadal will be the firm favourite to get Spain off to a winning start at the Olympic Stadium. The six-time Roland Garros champion has only ever lost one best-of-five sets match on clay, against Robin Soderling in 2009, and his incredible Davis Cup singles record now stands at 18-1.
Monaco will be a dangerous opponent, though. The 27-year-old, currently ranked No. 26, has been in decent form of late after finishing runner-up in Valencia and reaching the quarterfinals at the Paris Masters. He has also played a key role in Argentina’s run to this Final.
Ferrer versus del Potro looks likely to be a closer match-up, with two wins apiece in their four previous clashes. The Spaniard is Mr Consistent with an impressive 16-4 record in Davis Cup play, while the big serving Argentine is one of the most talented players in the men’s game.
Del Potro won the US Open title in 2009, his maiden Grand Slam victory, but was ruled out with a wrist injury for much of the next 12 months. His return to form in 2011 has seen his world ranking rise from No. 258 at the start of the year to No. 11.
Saturday’s doubles rubber also appears too close to call. The Spanish duo of Lopez and Verdasco are an experienced Davis Cup partnership, but they are hit and miss. Last time these two teams met, in the 2008 Final, the pair won a crucial match against Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri, but more recently against France in September they were hammered by Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Nalbandian and Schwank are playing together in Davis Cup for the first time, although they both have winning records with other partners. Nalbandian stands at 11-5 in doubles play and Schwank at 3-1.
The reverse singles rubbers on Sunday are scheduled to see Nadal and del Potro face off in the battle of the No. 1s, followed by Ferrer against Monaco. However, if the destination of the Davis Cup is to be decided in the fifth rubber then popular opinion is that Nalbandian, who has coveted this competition his whole career, will be the man that Argentina turn to.
Live scores and live streaming of the Final will be available on the Davis Cup website, as well as live commentary on Davis Cup Radio.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) - 01/12/2011
David Ferrer (ESP) - 01/12/2011
Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) - 01/12/2011
Captain Albert Costa (ESP) - 01/12/2011
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) - 01/12/2011
Juan Monaco (ARG) - 01/12/2011
David Nalbandian (ARG) - 01/12/2011
Captain Tito Vazquez (ARG) - 01/12/2011