Nalbandian-Schwank d. Cilic-Karlovic, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-7 8-6
Given the drama from the first day of the tie, I had been hoping for a slightly less topsy-turvy doubles rubber, in which Argentina emerged the victor.
It wasn’t easy, but Schwalbandian won the crucial doubles rubber. After a 5 hours match, (at this point, both Nalby and Cilic have both logged more than 10 hours on the tennis court), Nalby-Schwank took the 5th set 8-6 over Cilic-Karlovic. The Argentinean crowd played a crucial role in lifting the spirits of their players. Cilic commented after the match, “Never in my career have I played in front of a crowd like this.” Still, Cilic was a good sport about the home crowd’s support of Nalby/Edu — he said they were right to support their players and that the wind played more of a factor in Croatia’s loss in the doubles.
I wasn’t able to see the full match and only caught the last 2 sets. From what I saw—
Karlovic was a last-minute replacement for Zovko, who had originally been placed in the line-up. Captain Krajan probably figured he needed his best team for the dubs tie. What a battle it turned out to be. The level of play, much like the Cilic-Nalby rubber yesterday, went up and down, with many UFEs. There were strong winds that kicked up the sand on the clay court, which made for uneven playing conditions. Given El Rey’s fatigue, he also proved to be shakier on his serve. For a good portion of the match, Edu pulled his weight (and then some) in order to keep Argentina within striking distance.
I figure Edu’s steady play is the reason why El Rey seems more indulging of Edu in the celebration photos. Normally, we’d see El Rey punching Edu or shouting in his face. Instead, there is brotherly appreciation. Well done, Los Gordos!!
Step 1 of the hug: Shake your fist and remind your dubs partner that you are still fully capable of throwing a punch his way
Step 2: Re-direct your fist from Edu’s face into the greater expanse. Give into the hug, because it’s Edu and he seems like a really nice guy.
Step 3: … El Rey’s not really sure what he stepped into.
Step 4: Play it cool, Edu! This photo was probably taken a millisecond before El Rey pushes Edu away and reconsiders punching him.
DelPo will play the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday, against Cilic. Captain Krajan maintained that Cilic would play his 3rd rubber, despite probably being fatigued and out of sorts, after spending 10 hours on the court. If necessary, Pico will play the 5th rubber against Karlovic. They’ve only met once before last year in Montreal, where Ivo took the win over Pico in 3 sets.
Nalby has finished his job and will now cheer for DelPo and/or Pico as they try to clinch the tie. Nalby has put in a monstrous effort this weekend, playing two five-set matches (against Cilic). Hopefully, his body will not suffer too much for the amount of time he’s spent playing.
It’s reported that DelPo is no longer ill with fever and he has stopped vomiting. However, he has allergies which have caused an eye inflammation. I remember reading that he’d been ill with a combination of fever, stomach ache and allergies, but I wasn’t sure what he was allergic to. What is DelPo allergic to? Why can’t the universe leave his body alone? So far, DelPo seems fit enough to play — he dined with his teammates on Saturday and had a training session with his coach, Franco. So long as locusts or a pox doesn’t befall him, he will take the court against Cilic.