Saturday 15 September 2012
Last Update 15 September 2012 2:14 pm
GIJON, Spain: David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro maintained their near-perfect clay court records in the Davis Cup to give Spain a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States in their semifinal.
Ferrer put the hosts ahead in the best-of-five series with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey before Almagro beat John Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to leave the defending champions one point away from their fourth final in five years.
Almagro overcame 25 aces from Isner, who saved three match points before hitting a forehand long for Almagro to win.
Almagro and Ferrer are a combined 23-1 on clay.
The US has to win Saturday’s doubles to stay alive, with American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan facing Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
In Amsterdam, top-ranked Roger Federer beat 159th-ranked Thiemo de Bakker in straight sets and Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Robin Haase to give Switzerland a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands in their World Group playoff yesterday.
Federer overcame wet and windy conditions on a temporary outdoor clay court in Amsterdam to beat De Bakker 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
“On the serve it can play tricks on you,” Federer said of the gusty wind. “The ball, after you tossed it, it was moving away from you and you had to adjust the whole time. So to find a way to move the serve was pretty difficult.” Federer said the match would probably not even have started on the regular tennis circuit because of the rain, but he played down the conditions.
“It’s ok, no problem,” he said. “I mean, I’d prefer a sunny day, who wouldn’t? But this is a challenge as well.” Federer’s doubles partner Wawrinka had a tougher time against Haase, but eventually won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Federer and Wawrinka, the 2008 Olympic doubles champions, can wrap up the playoff Saturday by beating Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer in the doubles. Reverse singles are scheduled for tomorrow.
In Hamburg, Germany, Australia’s Bernard Tomic has insisted he has learnt his lessons after his US Open defeat at the hands of Andy Roddick was branded “disgraceful” by Davis Cup team captain Pat Rafter.
Tomic has been under pressure since US tennis great John McEnroe said the 19-year-old seemed to give up during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 loss to Roddick in the second round at Flushing Meadows two weeks ago.
Rafter slated Tomic’s performance and handed the teenager an ultimatum to either shape up or ship out for the ongoing Davis Cup World Group play-off against Germany.
Australia are in Hamburg bidding to make it into the World Group for the first time since 2007 and Tomic admitted he was relieved to get off to a good start with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
“You get a lot of stuff thrown at you and I feel I have responded well this week,” said the 19-year-old, with Davis Cup teammate Lleyton Hewitt one of the few who supported him in the wake of the Roddick defeat.
“It has been a rough week and I am happy I won. Your team expect a lot from you, you are the number one ranked player, but you have to put in the hard work and show your teammates you are willing to do anything.
“It’s not just about winning a match, it’s about fitting well in the team.” After Rafter’s stinging criticism, Stuttgart-born Tomic, ranked 42nd in the world, said he has been on a steep learning curve.
“You learn, I have learned a lot from my mistakes in the last few months,” he said.
“I’m going to get a lot of things thrown at me and this is just a learning curve.
“The most important thing is to never stop learning and I am picking up new things every day. I am getting to the point where I am maturing much better.” Having lost the first set to Stebe, Tomic dug deep to win the next three sets and said he had appreciated Rafter’s advice during changeovers, while his Australia captain said he was proud of the teenager’s performance.
“He got the job done, he found the will to win, it was great,” said Rafter.
“It was a big call at the US Open, I got into him, he got pissed off and gave it to me.
“That was the best retaliation he could have done, I was happy for him.
“That is what we want from him and hopefully he can do that again on Sunday.
“In the past, you might have looked at the conditions and wondered if he was going to hang tough, but he did and I am proud of him.” Australia and Germany were level at 1-1 at the end of Friday’s opening singles after Florian Mayer saw off Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
In Buneos Aires, a tearful Juan Martin del Potro could barely speak in an emotional courtside interview after beating Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-4 6-2 to put Argentina 1-0 up against Czech Republic in their semifinal on Friday.
Del Potro, torn between what is best for his career and his desire to play for his country, had considered pulling out of the tie at Parque Roca because of pains in his left wrist but he managed to hold out for the win.
“How I suffer playing, just for you, a lot for you, I played to thank the fans for their affection, the support they give me,” the Olympic bronze medallist, choking back the tears, told the crowd.
“The important thing is for me to be here... We all have pains, more or less bad... I know the one up there is looking after me,” added the world number eight after the match played to a backdrop of raucous, soccer-style chanting by the home crowd.
Stepanek, who won in three of their four previous meetings, said he did not see his opponent struggling at any point in the match and suggested the issue of Del Potro’s wrist might have been a bit of pre-match gamesmanship.
Del Potro had to save four break points in the eighth game before he broke the Czech. He gave away one break point in the second set but broke back in the next game and again in the seventh.
In the decider, Del Potro broke in the first and fifth games and settled the rubber on his serve with his first match point when Stepanek went wide with a return.
Czech world number six Tomas Berdych faces Juan Monaco in the second singles on the clay court at the Mary Teran de Weiss stadium.
The winning team will meet holders Spain or the United States in the final. Argentina will be looking to reach their second consecutive final, fourth since 2006 and fifth overall.
The Czechs, finalists in 2009, have won the trophy once as Czechoslovakia in 1980.
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