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I'm An Optimist, Perhaps Saturday Will Be Better...USA Davis Cup Team Down 0-2

Friday, September 19, 2008

David Ferrer completed the first day’s work for Spain by defeating USA’s Andy Roddick 76(5) 26 16 64 86 in 3 hours, 17 minutes to give Spain a 2-0 lead in the 2008 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Semifinal at the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid. Ferrer was supported by an enthusiastic and energetic crowd of mostly Spanish fans who had turned up at noon to watch world No. 1 Rafael Nadal win the first point for Spain.

By any reckoning Andy Roddick is a big occasion man, regularly gracing centre courts of the Grand Slam tournaments, year-end championships and, of course, two Davis Cup Finals. But he committed an uncharacteristic number of unforced errors (54) and was only able to convert six of 13 break point opportunities against the Spaniard. Roddick is definitely the one to beat on the American team and, with a 29-9 Davis Cup record, beating him in this competition is never easy but Ferrer, who was able to convert three of four break point chances, rose to the occasion.

After the tense and emotional victory by world No. 1 Rafael Nadal over Davis Cup first-timer Sam Querrey, the crowd in the 21,000 seat Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, including Prince Felipe of Spain, might have been forgiven for being a little flat but instead the atmosphere was celebratory and good-natured as Spain’s No. 2 Ferrer whose Davis Cup experience at 4-2 was considerably less than Roddick’s.

Roddick In Great Form

The American was surely buoyed by the fight that Querrey staged against Nadal (whom Roddick will face in Sunday’s reverse singles) but Ferrer, who had defeated his opponent in three of their five previous meetings, looked confident and comfortable in the opening set, forcing a tiebreak where he capitalised on a Roddick forehand error at 6-5 to win the opening set.

In the second set, Roddick hit an outstanding forehand winner crosscourt at 15-40 to break Ferrer for a 3-2 lead and broke again for a 5-2 lead before securing the second set with an ace 6-2.

Roddick rolled over Ferrer in the third 6-1 and it looked like a certain American victory but the Spanish No. 2 had other ideas, getting an early break in the fourth from a series of unforced errors by Roddick. Ferrer held on to the lead, converting his first set point opportunity with a forehand winner to level the match at two sets all.

“At no point did I think all was lost,” said Ferrer. “I always thought I had a chance if I hung in there. He was serving very well in the second and third set and I was missing a lot of opportunities.”

Spanish Fans Get behind Ferrer

With the crowd sensing a whitewash by the Spanish on opening day, there was a mood of real excitement in the stands. Roddick needed every bit of confidence in the fifth set as the fans at Las Ventas sang, chanted and did the wave (twice) to support their man. Ferrer’s body language was very positive and victory seemed pre-ordained when he broke Roddick early in the set. But Roddick refused to give up, breaking back for two-all then holding serve for 3-2. The momentum seemed to be going with USA but Roddick missed opportunities to break Ferrer and take the lead.

At 6-5 in the fifth set, Ferrer served to stay in the match and showed tremendous poise. Now it would be the American who needed to hold serve but a series of seemingly nervous errors on the part of Roddick handed the break to Ferrer who served for the match at 7-6. Ferrer held his nerve with two big aces at key points to win the match and give Spain a 2-0 lead in the tie.

“Andy played his butt off and played great,” said US captain Patrick McEnroe. “We are disappointed to be down 2-0 but we have a lot to be proud of. Obviously we are up against it but we knew that coming here. We are going to try to win the doubles and get that point.”

“I thought I played pretty well today,” said Roddick.“The level from both players was high, especially in the fourth and fifth set. I made a bad beginning to the fourth set and he raised his level.”

"Crowd Was Fair"- Agree Sanchez And McEnroe

Asked after the match about the very vocal local fans, Spanish captain Emilio Sanchez defended them saying, “I think the crowd was fair. There were a few close calls in the last two games which raised the tension a little but they were well behaved.”

“I thought the crowd was fair,” agreed McEnroe. “I explained that to Andy after the match. They were well behaved and were supporting their team.”

In tomorrow’s crucial doubles, it seems likely that US captain Patrick McEnroe will stay with his announced team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan but perhaps Spanish captain Emilio Sanchez will consider changing his pairing to include Nadal or Ferrer or both.

The winner of this semifinal will travel to either Argentina or Russia for the 2008 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final.

Photo Paul Zimmer

Posted by Shelia

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