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02 February 2013

Spain battles to stay alive against Canada


MATCH REPORT

By 

  • Jeff Paterson

Photo: Jeff BoughMarcel Granollers

VANCOUVER, CANADA: After a forgettable Friday, Spain stayed alive in its opening round tie against Canada and in the process prevented the Canadians from advancing beyond the first stage of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time. Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers rallied to defeat Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 4-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Down 2-0 after Friday’s singles rubbers and trailing two sets to one on Saturday, the Spaniards showed the fight of champions as they battled back to win their first point of the weekend. The hill remains steep for the top-ranked team in the competition, but the doubles victory win ensures that Spain has given itself a chance to complete the comeback in Sunday’s reverse singles.

“We tried our best until the last moment after losing the third set in the tie-breaker. That was a tough moment for us,” Granollers said. “We kept fighting and in the end we found a way to win. The win in the fourth set was a good moment for us and we finished very strong.”

The Spanish win dashed the hopes of 6,000 flag-waving Canadians who were hoping to witness a shocking sweep of the visitors. But it wasn’t to be as Lopez and Granollers seized control of the match in the late stages to give their country some momentum heading to the final day of competition. With the win, Granollers improves to 3-4 in Davis Cup doubles action while Lopez is now 2-3. The loss denied veteran Daniel Nestor his 30th Davis Cup doubles victory. He falls to 29-7 while Pospisil is now 3-2. Nestor experienced dizziness during the fourth set on Saturday’s and required medical attention following the match.
Spain’s victory is the first step up a steep hill if it’s going to complete the stunning comeback.

“We did what we needed to do to play tomorrow again,” Spanish captain Alex Corretja said. “If the Canadians are better, they have to beat us on the court. It’s good news to see that we’re still there and we’ll see what happens. Yesterday it looked like this was nearly over. The pressure will be on Canada. They’ve got the best player playing first and it’s not going to be easy, but if we have a slight chance we should try to take it.”

On Sunday, Canada will pin its hopes on its top gun Milos Raonic, who is scheduled to face Granollers in the opening match of the day. However with Granollers already having played twice this weekend, including five sets on Saturday, there is a chance he could be replaced in the Spanish line-up by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Corretja admitted he had a decision to make and has until an hour before the 11am match on Sunday to confirm his singles line-up. Frank Dancevic is slated to take on Albert Ramos in the fifth and final rubber.

Spain, which went to the final of last year’s Davis Cup, is without stars Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco. Still the tennis powerhouse boasts 13 players in the ATP’s top-100 singles rankings compared to just two for Canada – and one of them, Jesse Levine who has recently applied for the right to represent his birth country, is not yet eligible for selection.

With a 2-1 lead heading to the final day of this tie, Canada remains in position to pull off the upset. And although his team missed an opportunity to put Spain away Saturday, captain Martin Laurendeau feels confident about his country’s chances of advancing.

“I feel pretty good that we’re playing in Canada, we’re indoors and we’re playing on the court we basically laid down for Milos,” he said. “Winning three-love would have been a fairytale score, but being two-one up was something we were hoping for, to give Milos the chance to close it off. That’s the position we’re in and we’re going to hope that Milos is going to step up and do his job like he can do.”

Canada has waited decades to advance beyond the opening round of Davis Cup competition. Now it’ll have to wait at least one more day.

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau - 02/02/2013

Spanish captain Alex Corretja - 02/02/2013

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  • OUR REPORTER IN VANCOUVER

    Jeff Paterson

    Jeff is a reporter with Team 1040, Vancouver’s all-sports radio station, and a columnist for the weekly Georgia Straight newspaper. He has covered a number of major international competitions in Vancouver over the years including the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, National Hockey League and Canadian Football League games, PGA Tour’s Canadian Open and World Figure Skating Championships.

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