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Double trouble for Argentina

sports Updated: Nov 23, 2008 22:37 IST

Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco sent a chill through Argentina by winning the doubles to lead the Davis Cup final 2-1 on Saturday. Lopez and Verdasco prevailed as expected against David Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-3, boosting Spain's hopes of winning the final against all odds on Sunday, especially if the home side's injured leading player, Juan Martin del Potro, cannot play in the reverse singles.

"This was an important victory, it gives us life," Spain captain Emilio Sanchez Vicario said. "We need one more game." Sunday's schedule has del Potro meeting David Ferrer, then Nalbandian playing Lopez at Islas Malvinas Stadium. Spain needs to win only one of the matches to clinch its third Davis Cup title, and first away from home.

Argentina, unbeaten at home since 1998, has to sweep both for its maiden Davis Cup triumph, but it's hopes became bleaker on Saturday when del Potro was nursing a right thigh injury he hurt in Friday's singles, and undergoing intense treatment to be available. Jose Acasuso will replace him for the reverse singles.

Calleri and Nalbandian, playing their first Davis Cup doubles since the 2006 final, won the first set, but couldn't hold back the veteran Spanish pair over 3 hours, 18 minutes.

The Spaniards had 86 winners and only 30 unforced errors. The Argentines struggled on serve, being broken six times. But they came through first, breaking Verdasco for 6-5 then erasing a 0-40 deficit for Nalbandian to hold and win the first set in just under an hour.

The rally pumped up the crowd, and the nearly 10,000 fans chanted constantly in between games. A small group of Spaniards tried to keep up, and at times also managed to make some noise. Argentina saved three break points on Nalbandian's serve in the eighth game of the second set to stay even at 4-4, but after Spain went up 6-5, Nalbandian could not hold on again. Calleri's backhand volley flew long to even the set score.

In the third set, Nalbandian and Calleri were broken in successive games to trail 5-1, but Argentina came back in thrilling fashion to make it 5-5. With the crowd cheering louder and louder, the Argentines seemed poised to continue their improbable comeback in the tiebreaker after jumping 4-0 up, but Spain won six straight points to win the tiebreaker 7-5 and hush the crowd. In the final set, the Spaniards bolted to 5-2 and cruised to their fourth win in seven Davis Cup doubles, and by far their most important.

Insults from crowd motivated me: Verdasco

Fernando Verdasco said he was given extra motivation by insults from the crowd during Spain's doubles win. "I didn't do anything to the crowd, it was them who turned against me," said Verdasco. "It gave me more motivation, it increased my desire to win and helped me find more strength. I played better after they started insulting me," he said.

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