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11 February 2012

Spain win at a canter



  • Alexandra Willis

Photo: Rafael SeguiMarcel Granollers (ESP)

OVIEDO, SPAIN: Defending Davis Cup by BNP Paribas champion Spain proved that they can exist without their leading lights, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, as Alex Corretja’s team swept to a 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan to reach the 2012 quarterfinals.

“Our first goal was to win three points, we got them already on Saturday, so that means on Sunday we can go more relaxed and just enjoying the situation, but obviously it is nice to start like that,” Corretja said.

“I learn a lot of things, especially that we have a lot of players to choose [from], lots of players that are capable and ready to play, and they are very enthusiastic to show that they are also good players.”

After a sensational win for Juan Carlos Ferrero and an accomplished performance from Nicolas Almagro put the home side 2-0 up overnight, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez returned to finish the job, defeating Yuriy Schukin and Evgeny Korolev 62 63 61.

Granollers and Lopez have only two Davis Cup ties between them, the younger having won one and lost one doubles, and Lopez, Nadal’s favoured doubles partner, making his debut here in Oviedo. But their lack of experience in Davis Cup did not hamper them in front of a boisterous home crowd.

“When you need to choose a team you need to see what’s best for you, and we do believe a lot in Marcel and in Marc as well, and I think they played amazing doubles together,” Corretja said. “They communicate each other very well, you can see the way they move, the way they act, the way they behave on the court which is fantastic and I’m very happy for them.”

Since pairing up on the ATP World Tour last year, Granollers and Lopez have reached two tournament finals and the last 16 at the US Open, a symmetry which showed as they broke serve to begin. Breaking again in the fifth game as Korolev, long-sleeved to survive the cold conditions, double-faulted, Lopez served out the set 62 after 32 minutes.

The red-shirted pair looked like they’d begin the second set in similar fashion with a break point on the Korolev serve. But the Kazakh held firm, and he and Schukin, who have only ever played together in Davis Cup, raised their level enough to keep their noses in front for the early stages of the second set.

They couldn’t maintain it though, Granollers and Lopez breaking in the often telling seventh game to lead 4-3, and the Spanish marching band trumpeting their players on to take the second set 63, courtesy of another Korolev double fault.

Flying along in the third, it was the Schukin serve this time that fell prey to the Spanish attack, the duo racing into a 3-0 lead which soon became 5-0 as Korolev too failed to hold serve.

With Granollers tasked with serving Spain into the quarterfinals, the young Spaniard didn’t blink, putting away a smash in emphatic fashion.

“We are very happy how we play, I think we play a very good match, was difficult, but I think everything was good, was perfect,” said Granollers.

“I’m very happy is my first time with Spanish team, for me is a dream, I’m very happy for that, I play very well today, Marcel also, and I’m so happy,” said Lopez.

The Spanish triumph was particularly apt on a day when the President of the Spanish Tennis Federation, Jose Luis Escanuela, and the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, confirmed that they will work together to bring action against Canal Plus after the French TV station last week released a controversial video linking Spanish athletes to doping.

Spain will advance to a quarterfinal against either Russia or Austria in April, while Kazakhstan will play-off to stay in the World Group in September. 

“It’s a pity for us that we’re losing 3-0, but we should try next day to show more,” said Kazakhstan captain Yegor Shaldunov. “The main plan is that we should stay in the World Group, doesn’t care what team it will be, and our Federation will make preparation for this, and will show the result, I hope.”

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Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers (ESP) - 11/02/2012

Captain Alex Corretja (ESP) - 11/02/2012

Captain Yegor Shaldunov (KAZ) - 11/02/2012

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ESP Flag Spain v Kazakhstan KAZ Flag 10 Feb 2012 - 12 Feb 2012 View details

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    • Marcel Granollers (ESP)Marc Lopez (ESP)
    • Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers (ESP)Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez (ESP)

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    Palacio Municipal de los Deportes, Oviedo, Spain

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    Alexandra Willis

    Alexandra is a multimedia tennis journalist. The editorial content manager at the All England Club, Wimbledon, she is a regular contributor to The Daily Telegraph, Sporting Intelligence, Associated Press, The Daily Express, and BBC Sport, and the former deputy editor of Ace Tennis Magazine. When not watching tennis, or tweeting about it, she spends her time trying to learn Justine Henin's backhand.




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