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Argentina seek revenge for Davis Cup heartache

Argentina will be gunning to avenge their painful loss to Spain in the final of the 2008 Davis Cup when the teams cross swords again in this year's final, which starts in Seville tomorrow.

sports Updated: Dec 01, 2011 11:29 IST
Argentina,Davis Cup,Seville

Argentina will be gunning to avenge their painful loss to Spain in the final of the 2008 Davis Cup when the teams cross swords again in this year's final, which starts in Seville on Friday.

Three years ago, on home soil in Mar del Plata, Argentina went into the match as favourites amid the absence through injury of Spain's Rafael Nadal.

Instead, after David Nalbandian had crushed David Ferrer in the opening rubber, they sank to a 3-1 loss - they didn't play the final rubber - that left them still seeking a first Davis Cup title after four final appearances.

Nadal will spearhead Spain's bid for glory this time around, and he will do so on his preferred clay surface at Seville's Estadio Olimpico, but Argentina captain Modesto Vazquez says his players will not be found wanting again.

"I wasn't there but I know we were very disappointed, very sad, as that was our chance," said Vazquez, who took over the team in 2009.

"Nadal wasn't in the team, that was our surface (hard) and the right surface to beat them. It was a very close tie -- it could be one point here, one point there.

"In the doubles they had a set point, (Juan Martin) del Potro was injured, a few things happened. We hope that the things that happened there will do us favours in this final."

Del Potro was forced to withdraw from the 2008 decider with a thigh injury but the current world number 11 echoed his skipper in insisting that the experience of three years ago has made his team stronger.

"That's in the past, completely in the past," he said.

"After that final, we grew up. I've improved my game a lot and now we have another chance. We are very calm within the team and trying to do everything OK to be ready to fight."

Thursday's draw will establish the order of play, with Spain captain Albert Costa poised to unleash world number two Nadal and world number five Ferrer in Friday's opening singles.

Both players are unbeaten on clay in the Davis Cup, while Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, the heroes of the 2008 triumph, are set to be aligned once again in the doubles.

Argentina may take heart from the pair's last match in the competition, however, as they were thrashed 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 by France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra in the semi-finals in Cordoba.

David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank are expected to pair up for Argentina.

Nalbandian's susceptibility to injury means he could be left out of Friday's opening singles, in order to preserve him for the doubles and a potentially decisive fifth singles match on Sunday.

In that instance, world number 26 Juan Monaco could find himself pitched in to face Nadal in the opening rubber, which Vazquez may already consider lost due to the Spaniard's renowned invulnerability on clay.

Despite benefiting from home advantage and their favoured surface, Nadal insists Spain will need to prepare for the contest as thoroughly as their opponents.

"We're under the same pressure as they are," said the former world number one, who has lost just one singles rubber since making his Davis Cup debut in 2004. "We have to win the Davis Cup."

Spain's line-up is identical to the one that secured the country's last Davis Cup title, against the Czech Republic in Barcelona in 2009, but Verdasco knows that Argentina arrive with extra motivation.

"The 2008 final was painful for Argentina, so it's normal that this time they'll have special motivation," he said.

While Spain are bidding for a fifth title, Argentina are hoping to make it fourth time lucky after their previous final defeats in 1981, 2006 and 2008.

"They are favourites with Nadal and Ferrer," admitted Vazquez.

"But anything can happen. We could lose 1-4 or win 4-1."

First Published: Dec 01, 2011 11:25 IST