Friday, 2 December 2011

2011 Davis Cup Final Preview: Spain vs Argentina

In a rematch of the 2008 final, Spain will face off against Argentina in front of a home crowd in Seville, Spain. The Spaniards are heavily favoured to raise the Davis Cup again, and for the Argentinians the odds would appear to be stacked monumentally against them. It is possibly the most daunting prospect of defeating a clay specialist nation on its own turf, against the greatest clay court player of all time and his formidable wingman, David Ferrer over 5 sets, and an excellent doubles team in Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.

Argentina will be relying heavily on Juan Martin Del Potro to make an upset by defeating David Ferrer in the second singles rubber and attempt to put the Spanish doubles team under pressure going into the second day. The coach of Argentina, Tito Vasquez, has already made a bold gamble to front Juan Monaco for the opening rubber against Rafael Nadal instead of the superior Nalbandian, who is scheduled to play the doubles with Eduardo Schwank, and the logic would appear that he is hoping for Del Potro to win, and to take the doubles the following day. One can only conclude that the strategy with Monaco is to draw the match against Nadal out, because it is unforeseeable that he would be able to defeat the King of Clay, who has never lost on clay in the Davis Cup, and to win as many matches around those involving Nadal, as possible. Unfortunately, it is a strategy that doesn't make a lot of sense - the approach should be to win every match, not to build it around calculating the matches which can be won or lost. The efficacy of his strategy will be borne out after the two singles matches  are played tomorrow.

Certainly, the talented, huge hitting Del Potro has an excellent chance against Ferrer, who has admitted to feeling tired, and being forced to extend his tennis season because of the Davis Cup final. The tall Argentinian is a very good clay courter and moves very well on the surface, and with his powerful groundstrokes combined with what has been reported to be a zippy surface, he may well be able to hit through Ferrer. But we should not expect less than everything from Ferrer, who is an excellent clay player and a defensive fortress -no matter how tired the Spaniard is, Del Potro will need to be striking a clean consistent ball against him to have a chance.

It is difficult to envision the Argentinians upending the Spaniards on home territory, but there is a glimmer of a chance, and will depend firstly on Del Potro getting a win over Ferrer - if Spain take the first two matches, the tie could well be over. But even then the pressure will still be on them to secure the doubles on saturday, which is another uphill task against two experienced players in Lopez and Verdasco. I can't see past a convincing win for Spain with the intimidating Rafael Nadal at the helm of one of the strongest Davis Cup teams in recent history.

Prediction: Spain: 4 Argentina: 1

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