Argentina Upsets Sweden in Davis Cup

by John on March 8, 2010

For Argentina it might be the equivalent of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice.” In a stunning upset, the Argentine Davis Cup team edged heavily favored Sweden 3-2 this weekend in a first-round tie at the Kungliga Tennishallen in Stockholm. Former World No. 3 David Nalbandian, in a heroic display of leadership and inspiration, made a last minute decision to fly from Buenos Aires to Sweden on Thursday with the intention of perhaps playing doubles to help out the young and inexperienced Argentine team. He did much more than that, partnering with Davis Cup rookie Horacio Zeballos on Saturday to defeat Robin Soderling and Robert Lindstedt 6-2, 7-6(4), 7-6 (5), giving the visitors a 2-1 lead, and then topping Andreas Vinciguerra 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 yesterday in the decisive final rubber. Nalbandian had been expected to miss the tie altogether while healing from a leg injury suffered last month in his first tournament back since undergoing hip surgery in May. Juan Martin del Potro and Juan Monaco, Argentina’s top ranked players, were already sidelined with injuries. Robin Soderling put Sweden out front on Friday with a 6-1, 7-6 (0), 7-5 victory over Eduardo Schwank and then Leonardo Mayer evened the tie, defeating Joachim Johansson 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in the second rubber. Mayer battled valiantly in yesterday’s first match, but Soderling prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (5), 7-5, setting the stage for Nalbandian with the tie even at 2-2. Vinciguerra took a 3-1 lead in the first set before Nalbandian found his stride. The Argentine then controlled play until the final game of the third set, where he saved three break points before netting a forehand on the fourth to let the Swede stay in the match. Nalbandian broke for a 2-1 lead in the fourth set and held his serve the rest of the way, converting his first match point with a backhand winner. Despite playing well, Nalbandian admitted to being less than 100 percent. “I didn’t feel very fit yet, but today it was enough,” he said. “I warmed up, and felt worse than I thought…But with the flag behind us, it’s tough to not be on court.” Nalbandian was mobbed on court by his teammates after the final point. The victory advances Argentina to a quarterfinal matchup with Russia in July.

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