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Verdasco wins Davis Cup for Spain

Spain celebrate winning the Davis Cup
Spain clinched their third Davis Cup title having also triumphed in 2000 and 2004

By David Ornstein

Fernando Verdasco came through a tense five-set encounter with Jose Acasuso to hand Spain a hard-earned victory over Argentina in the Davis Cup final.

Verdasco won the first set but Acasuso, standing in for Juan Martin del Potro, rallied to take the second and third.

Acasuso was backed by a boisterous home crowd in Mar del Plata but tired badly in the decider and Verdasco came through 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 4-6 6-2 6-1.

That put Spain 3-1 up with one rubber to spare in the best-of-five tie.

It's like a dream come true and maybe the most beautiful day of my life - I tried my best all year to win the Davis Cup and I am happy for everyone in Spain

Fernando Verdasco
David Nalbandian was ready to take on Feliciano Lopez in what Argentina hoped would be the decisive rubber but the world number 11, a vocal supporter from the sidelines, did not get the chance.

The hosts were bidding for their first Davis Cup title after finishing runners-up to the United States in 1981 and Russia in 2006.

For Spain, who were champions in 2000 and 2004, Verdasco's win marked their third Davis Cup triumph and they achieved it without world number one Rafael Nadal.

"It's like a dream come true and maybe the most beautiful day of my life," said Verdasco. "I tried my best all year to win the Davis Cup and I am happy for everyone in Spain.

Fernando Verdasco
Verdasco showed impressive character to come from behind to win

"In the Davis Cup, you have to fight to the death and you always have to keep your hope of winning. This mental strength helped me win the match."

Spain captain Emilio Sanchez Vicario selected Verdasco ahead of the off-form David Ferrer and the decision paid dividends.

"It's amazing," said Sanchez Vicario. "It was an incredible match of ups and downs. In the end Fernando was the better player.

"It was very tough for us because Fernando was fighting with the crowd and not listening to us.

"But he has been playing at a higher level than Acasuso all season and is very strong physically. He wasn't even tired. We'll celebrate with a lot of wine."

Nadal, who was forced to pull out with a knee problem, added: "To win away in any tie is difficult. But at Argentina, in front of its public where they chose the surface, this is history. A moment like this is unforgettable."

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Verdasco added: "I have to remember Rafael Nadal because we played the Davis Cup final thanks to him. This is one of the happiest days in my life. I am so happy for playing the final."

In the opening exchanges there was little to choose between world number 16 Verdasco and Acasuso, ranked 48 and called into action after Del Potro failed to overcome a thigh strain.

The Spaniard increased the pressure and broke to love for a 4-2 lead before serving out the set but Acasuso responded positively.

With Verdasco's serve starting to falter, Acasuso opened up a 2-0 lead in the second set but he was pegged back before an exchange of breaks resulted in a tie-break.

A combination of stunning groundstrokes and unforced errors by Verdasco enabled the 26-year-old to come through and he grew in confidence in the third set.

Umpire Jake Garner was forced to urge silence from the crowd with increasing regularity and it seemed that Verdasco was struggling to concentrate.

When you lose such an important player like Juan Martin, it opens a big hole in the team - after that, things got complicated for us

Argentina captain Alberto Mancini
Breaks were exchanged before Verdasco drew level at 4-4 but, the very next game, Acasuso unleashed a stunning forehand winner to take a 5-4 lead before serving out the set.

However, in the face some taxing baseline rallies Acasuso began to tire and Verdasco was able to assert his authority once more.

He deservedly broke for a 4-2 lead before serving out the fourth set and, with Acasuso suffering from a stomach muscle problem, opened up an early advantage in the fifth.

The Spaniard never looked back and served out to prompt wild scenes of celebration among the Spanish team and their supporters.

Argentina captain Alberto Mancini was left to rue the withdrawal of Del Potro saying: "After that, things got complicated for us."

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see also
Nadal will miss Davis Cup final
11 Nov 08 |  Tennis


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