Argentina lead the tie 2-0 against Germany!
Monaco d. Petzschner 6-3 6-3 6-3
Pico played an excellent match, possibly the best in his career as a visitor at Davis Cup. While I’d thought Petzsch’s serves and his volleying skills would be treacherous, Pico’s scrambling abilities and his overall consistent groundstrokes proved too solid. Petzsch’s ventures to the net were often punished, as Pico’s footwork helped him with the passes. At 6-3 6-3 6-3, it was a clean kill.
Picquito shows his mettle!
Despite the presence of part-time German Tommy Haas on the bench, Germany could not win on Friday. Also, I’m curious as to why Florian Mayer was sitting on the bench from the start to finish of Petzsch’s match. Aren’t there important training sessions to be undergone before a match? Nalby was nowhere to be seen on ARG’s bench during Pico’s match.
Nalbandian d. Mayer 2-6 6-0 6-1 7-6 (5)
Pico’s win provided a cushion for the next singles rubber between El Rey and Mayer. This rubber followed a topsy-turvy scoreline.
In the right circumstances (aka: when he’s not playing against anyone I remotely care about), I could really enjoy watching Florian Mayer’s game. Mayer has this quietly happy and relaxed dignity mixed with fire when he plays tennis.
Mayer started out by zoning, hitting acutely angled shots and wrong-footing Nalby. Nalby looked like he was unsure of where he was in the 1st set. At the start, Mayer was playing as if he were an imitation of Nalby, which seemed to befuddle Nalby. I was starting to worry a bit (read: despair a lot) after Mayer took the first set 6-2.
Then, Nalby turned the tide. The Davis Cup version of El Rey returned with a vengeance and he played the majestic tennis I’d been expecting.
Guess who’s back? He is not the best-looking man in tennis (by a stretch), yet Nalby can conjure the emotions of Davis Cup and tennis like no other player.
After dishing out a bagel and a breadstick (or, in recognition of Nalby’s maintained weight loss, a tomato ring and a celery-stick), the 4th set turned out to be a much closer affair. Mayer broke and Nalby grew increasingly perturbed with the German crowd cheering for Mayer. Nalby can occasionally lose the plot when he is confronted with interferences like this. Yet, with a stunning return winner, he broke back. One of my favorite shots in the book is when Nalby disdainfully smacks a return-of-serve winner that punishes the opponent’s lackluster, or condescending, 2nd serve effort.
Onto the 4th set tiebreak: The TB felt like a tasting menu of Nalby’s career. It was a combination of sublime winners and mystifying errors. Nalby hit a stupendous lob to go up a mini-break in the TB. More impressive shots followed and soon, he was up 5 MPs.
He went from 6-1 up in the TB to 6-5. Nalby let go of 4 MPs. Furthermore, El Rey tumbled to the clay surface after fruitlessly chasing a Mayer FH, to bring the TB to 6-5*
I was starting to worry again. Even when El Rey seems in command, things can slowly spin out of control.
Yet El Rey delivered on a BHDTL against the Mayer serve. He won the match and El Rey secured a two-point lead for ARG ahead of GER.
"Grande David" the No 1 trending topic in the world. Nalbandian + Davis Cup = magic.—
James LaRosa (@JamesLaRosa) February 10, 2012
Conclusion: Everyone was happy (except for the German team). The question now is whether ARG will choose to play Nalby in doubles with Schwank, in order to heighten their chances of closing out the tie on the 2nd day. The Nalby-Schwank duo seems the more promising pair from ARG’s line-up.