Nadal drives Spain into Davis Cup semis clash with Britain
BARCELONA – Rafael Nadal shone as he drove Spain into the 2019 Davis Cup semi-finals, triumphing in both the singles and doubles rubbers in a tight 2-1 win over Argentina which wrapped up early Saturday.
They will face Britain, who defeated Germany 2-0, while Russia's dramatic 2-1 win over Novak Djokovic's Serbia puts them up against Canada in Saturday's semis of the revamped tournament.
Spain's Pablo Carreno-Busta, chosen to stand in for Roberto Bautista Agut, who left the tournament because of the death of his father on Thursday, fell to a 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 defeat by Guido Pella in the first singles match.
However Nadal levelled the tie at 1-1 as he made light work of Diego Schwartzman, breezing to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
The world No 1 was in irresistible form in the doubles as well, alongside team-mate Marcel Granollers, earning a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Argentine duo Leonardo Mayer and Maximo Gonzalez.
The 2016 champions Argentina played their part in an enthralling tie but Nadal delighted raucous fans on home soil as he booked Spain's spot in the final four.
"I have been playing great," said Nadal after his singles victory. "Great serve, played aggressive from the baseline, I had the breaks early in the sets and that helps."
Andy Murray was again absent from Britain's team as he remains away from his top fitness level, but Kyle Edmund recorded an impressive 6-3, 7-5 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening singles rubber.
Edmund hit 10 winners to win the first set in only 32 minutes and although the German stepped up his game in the second, the Briton held to love to triumph.
Dan Evans held his nerve to take the first set against Jan-Lennard Struff in the second match, but his opponent swept back strongly before the decisive third went to the wire, Evans triumphing 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2).
"I lost some tough matches lately and felt like I've let the team down in the last two days, so this is amazing for them, I'm just so happy for them that we're through," said Evans.
"I served great, I thought I was playing well the last two days but everybody in the team has kept me going, being positive, so it's great to get through for everyone."
Earlier Serbian world No. 2 Djokovic beat Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3 in their singles rubber to level at 1-1, after Andrey Rublev sent Russia ahead with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Filip Krajinovic, with the tie coming down to a thrilling doubles decider.
Djokovic and Viktor Troicki faced Khachanov and Rublev, with the Russians scoring a nail-biting 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) win at the Caja Magica in Madrid.
Serbia's 16-time Grand Slam winner lost his temper during the doubles rubber, smashing a ball into the stands in frustration after his compatriot hit a return into the net at 40-15 down in the seventh game with Djokovic serving.
The two Serbians were frustrated with the officials, rowing with the umpire and line judge as tension rose and tempers flared.
The match culminated in an epic tiebreak where Russia saved three match points, clinging on to win.
The Serbian players were emotional when speaking to reporters afterwards, with veteran Janko Tipsarevic, who is retiring, saying his team-mates apologized to him for blowing his chance of ending his career on a high note.
"A few of the guys apologized to me, I don't accept these apologies because none of them let me down over all these 20 years," said the 35-year-old.
"As for the team, everybody knows they are like my brothers and I will be with the team in one capacity or another and would like to thank them all for being with me on this journey."
Troicki, who missed an easy volley during the tiebreak which should have won the match for Serbia, was distraught.
"I probably feel the worst ever, I've never experienced such a moment in my career, in my life," he explained. "I let my team down and I apologize to them."dpa