The draw took place and there are no surprises in the line-up for this weekend:
Friday: Rafa Nadal vs Juan Monaco and David Ferrer vs Juan Martin del Potro
Close friends Rafa Nadal and Pico Monaco will kick off the Davis Cup tie in their first rubber. Given Pico’s recently great form, it’d be great if he could stretch the first match to 4-5 sets.
Rafa said in his interview, “I always want my friends to do well in life, but not for the Davis Cup this year.” Rafa gives the Andy Murray treatment to Argentina. Yes, Rafa. How lovely and charming it is to have it both ways 😉
Friday’s most decisive match is between Ferru and DelPo. This match is a must-win for DelPo and Argentina: should he lose here, Argentina may as well surrender. Most of the pressure is on DelPo. He will need to be on-song and offensive. Although Ferru admitted to exhaustion, he is brilliantly capable of punishing poor play. Here is a light-hearted photo of DelPo-Ferru in practice to calm any fraying nerves.
Saturday: David Nalbandian/Edu Schwank vs Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco
Ideally, the final will be tied at 1-1 after Friday. The doubles match on Saturday will be crucial for victory. Argentina are fielding a strong doubles team with Nalby and Schwank. Fer and Feli are looking to overcome their tough loss in September against France.
Sunday: Nadal vs Del Potro and Juan Monaco (or David Nalbandian) vs Ferrer
On the final day, if it comes to that, the reverse singles will see Rafa and DelPo face off against each other. If it hasn’t been stated enough, Rafa hasn’t been defeated on clay during a DC tie.
DelPo is certainly no mug on clay, but he faces an uphill battle here. In any case, Argentina’s plan was always to wrest the 2 singles points from Ferru, not Rafa.
Should the final go to a deciding rubber, things would turn interesting. Since Pico plays the 1st rubber, his name is automatically included in the reverse singles draw. Argentina will likely replace him with Nalby on Sunday, to play Ferru.
It would be poetically cruel and sad if Nalby were to play and lose the deciding rubber. Still, I don’t think he’d have it any other way. I’d love to see if Last-Chance-Saloon Nalby could pull off a special moment in Sevilla.
Now, Team Argentina have faced a few indignities this week, whether it’s Santana touting Spain’s abilities on roller skates, or a journalist asking Chela whether he felt welcome at the DC final (given his status as being part of the team but not playing). That’s just rude.
If Argentina’s players looked tired at the draw ceremony, it’s no coincidence. On their rest day, they were woken up early in the morning for a full doping control. The Spaniards were not tested, which understandably vexed the Argentina camp.
With the comfort of a moral pedestal to stand upon (who doesn’t love a good moral pedestal?), may Argentina bottle up that anger and take it out on the court!
They may have to forget the H2H stats though (Ferru and Rafa are a combined 25-0 on clay in DC ties).
Below is a musically-themed clip of the draw ceremony: Starring Marc! & Marcel, Ferru-Feli and Ferru-Rafa bromancing, Pico-DelPo schoolgirl chatter, and a fun moment (@1:39s) when Ferru stands on his toes while DelPo hunches over so they can take their photo together:
Looks like both the Armada and Argentines were a group of Chatty Cathies at the draw (except for poor Edu Schwank and Fer).