BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Horacio Zeballos was the hero for Argentina, partnering David Nalbandian to defeat Christopher Kas and Tobias Kamke and clinch the final point that puts the hosts through to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals.
The Argentine pair were well on course to wrap up the tie in emphatic style but Kamke and Kas were not to be beaten easily and fought back to take the third set and threaten a comeback. Their hopes were swiftly extinguished in the fourth as the home favourites scored a 61 64 57 62 victory.
If Germany appeared a difficult task for Argentina before this weekend, the home side now go through to face France for a place in the semifinals, although they do have the advantage of another home tie.
Germany were dealt the worst possible start on Friday when Philipp Kohlschreiber was forced to retire while leading 54 in the fifth set of his opening match against Carlos Berlocq with a left hamstring injury, forcing him to return to Germany on crutches earlier on Saturday.
Juan Monaco then gave the visitors a mountain to climb, recovering from the loss of the first set to defeat Florian Mayer 67(4) 63 63 64 and set the hosts on track for victory over Germany in the first round for the second straight year.
Zeballos led the doubles
An in-form Zeballos set the rhythm for the Argentine pair but he still benefited from the expertise of Nalbandian, who is finding his feet following an eight-month absense from the tour because of an abdominal injury suffered the day before the 2012 US Open.
The Argentine duo maintained control of today’s doubles match throughout, except for a brief spell during the third set. Kamke and Kas were there to take advantage of their momentary loss in concentration, but Nalbandian and Zeballos soon recaptured the wheel in the fourth set to give the hosts the vital point to win the tie.
A surprise for captain Jaite
In the days leading up to the first round tie, Martin Jaite, Argentina’s captain, had said that he didn’t expect the tie to finish on Saturday. “This result is really surprising for me but today we played a great doubles match," he admitted. "In fact, I think the whole team had a great performance.”
Nalbandian, meanwhile, was pleased with his return.
“It’s really tough when you are such a long time [away from] the courts, but I think we both played a good match today," he said of he and Zeballos' efforts. "We had a low in the third set but we started good in the fourth to take the match. Physically I felt good, I practiced a lot and I hope to do good on tour to be ready for the next tie."
Right beside Nalbandian, just like on court, Zeballos looked happy and relaxed. “I am very happy that Argentina is in the quarterfinals," he beamed. "I felt confident because Nalbandian was by my side. He told what to do at every moment of the match and I did everything he told me to do”.
Once again, just as every year since Argentina got back in the World Group in 2002, the South American country have won in the first round of the Davis Cup. They are not only through to the quarterfinals, but safe in the knowledge that they have secured a spot in the elite next year too.
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Horacio Zeballos - 02/02/13
David Nalbandian - 02/02/13
Captain Carsten Arriens (GER) - 02/02/13