Davis Cup final: Nadal, Ferrer give Spain 2-0 lead
Revitalised Rafael Nadal ran off 13 straight games during a rout of Tomas Berdych on Friday, a mere warm-up for an heroic four-hours-plus win from teammate David Ferrer, which pulled Spain into 2-0 command of the Davis Cup final with the Czech Republic early Saturday.sports Updated: Dec 05, 2009 11:24 IST
Revitalised Rafael Nadal ran off 13 straight games during a rout of Tomas Berdych on Friday, a mere warm-up for an heroic four-hours-plus win from teammate David Ferrer, which pulled Spain into 2-0 command of the Davis Cup final with the Czech Republic early Saturday.
Nadal improved his Davis Cup record on clay to 11-0 in a 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 thrashing in front of 16,000 fans at the Palau Sant Jordi.
Wily Czech veteran Radek Stepanek was unable to close out against Ferrer after easily winning the first two sets, instead going down 1- 6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 8-6 in four hours, 17 minutes.
The calculated risk by captain Albert Costa, who replaced number nine Fernando Verdasco with Ferrer paid huge dividends for the hosts, with a third trophy for Spain within reach with a win in the doubles rubber.
"Tomorrow we have the first chance to win the Davis Cup and Sunday will have two more," said Costa. "We know we are on the right track but the last thing we can do is relax."
Ferrer broke eight times while saving 15 break points against his own serve, overcoming 58 Stepanek winners.
"The end of the third set really convinced me that I could reverse history," said the winner, who had not played for a month. "Before I was very depressed and angry, I could not subdue Radek in any way.
"This was one of the most important wins of my career."
Nadal was thrilled to get a victory after losing his last four matches -- including three group contests at last week's ATP season wrap-up in London.
He needed two-and-a-half hours to achieve victory with 28 winners and seven breaks of serve, committing 21 unforced errors to 40 for Berdych.
"This win was very important to me. I had said that I wanted to be part of the team after missing the last two ties. Luckily I was able to give us and the crowd the first point," said Nadal.
"There were nerves at first, but I was able to concentrate in time and I won the match in a good way," said Nadal, now 13-1 in Davis play.
"From the second set I could move much better on the baseline, I knew I could stay in control easily from that point."
Berdych said he missed his opportunities. "I had a couple of chances in the first set, which I should have taken. If I had, the match would have been completely different."
There was little hope for Ferrer, who turned in a pair of singles victories two-and-a-half months ago when Spain beat Israel in the semi-finals.
Stepanek dominated in the early stages to pull his underdog nation level.
Nadal is basing the success of his season on the Davis outcome as Spain tries to become the first nation to retain the trophy since Sweden in 1998.
The Spaniards have won three Davis titles this decade, the first in 2000 in Barcelona over Australia, where the teenaged star-in-waiting Nadal served as a flag-bearer.
They added a second in Seville in 2004 against the United States and travelled to Argentina a year ago to beat the South Americans for the trophy.
Nadal sat out the Argentine trip to rest injured knees and is keen to make amends this weekend.
Spain is all but unbeatable on clay, having won its last 19 ties on the surface and its last 17 ties at home.
The Spaniards lead 3-2 over the Czechs, who won their only Davis Cup title as Czechoslovakia in 1980 by defeating Italy in Prague.