Sports

 
Men's Tennis (ATP)

Nadal lifts Spain to fifth Davis Cup title



Seville, Spain (Sports Network) - The great Rafael Nadal came from behind on Sunday in order to beat Juan Martin del Potro and lift mighty Spain to its third Davis Cup title in four years, as the host Spaniards defeated Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five final in Seville. A scheduled fifth rubber was abandoned on Day 3.

This also marks Spain's fifth championship in 12 years.

The formerly top-ranked and current world No. 2 Nadal dropped the first set in the first, and only, reverse singles rubber on Sunday before righting the ship against his fellow former U.S. Open champion del Potro for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7-0) victory on the red clay at Olympic Stadium.

In the first set, del Potro fired forehand winners at will to stun a sluggish Nadal, as the towering Argentine handled the six-time French Open champ in a mere seven games, which included three breaks of serve. But Nadal found his rhythm and got back on track by winning the second set, which he did by breaking the 6-foot-6 Argentine in the 10th game of the stanza.

The third set would mark a complete reversal from the opening frame, as Nadal drilled del Potro in seven games. The Spaniard broke his Argentine counterpart for a 2-0 lead in the frame and cruised from there.

Nadal then broke del Potro to open the fourth set, but the South American slugger would more than challenge the Spaniard in the would-be final set.

The left-handed Nadal broke del Potro for a 3-2 lead, but the Argentine wouldn't go away, as he charged back with a pair of breaks en route to a stunning 5-3 lead.

Del Potro served for the fourth set, but Nadal broke the formidable Argentine by capping off a tremendous rally with a big forehand winner.

Nadal consolidated the break with a hold to level the set at 5-all and then broke del Potro for a ninth time in the next game for a 6-5 edge when the Argentine netted a forehand.

Del Potro, however, got the break right back in the next game with a crushing forehand winner to force a tiebreak. It was the Argentine's eighth break of the match.

Unfortunately for del Potro and Argentina, Nadal bageled "Delpo" in the extra session and closed out the match on his first match point with a forehand winner, which whipped the home crowd into a championship frenzy after 4 hours, 8 minutes of compelling tennis.

Del Potro exited the court in tears for the second time in three days.

Team Spain celebrated on the court, as it was presented with medals and the largest trophy in sports -- the Davis Cup. The jubilant winners jumped up and down on the clay surface while singing and being littered with confetti in front of 27,000 spectators, including King Juan Carlos.

"Today is one of the most emotional days of my career," Nadal said. "After such a difficult year, this was a spectacular finale to the season. To win a final this way is very special."

Nadal has now won his last 20 Davis Cup singles matches, improving to 20-1 lifetime, including an unbeatable 16-0 mark on clay in this prestigious international sporting event.

On Saturday in Seville, team Argentina stayed alive, at 1-2 down, when a quality tandem of David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank whipped an all-left- handed Spanish duo of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

In Friday's opening singles, Nadal and world No. 5 David Ferrer gave the Spaniards a 2-0 advantage, as Nadal dismantled world No. 26 Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 and Ferrer outlasted the 23-year-old world No. 11 del Potro 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in an almost five-hour battle.

The dynamic duo of the 25-year-old Nadal and 29-year-old Ferrer are a combined 28-0 all-time on clay for Spain in Davis Cup action.

The 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was also this year's French Open winner and Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up.

A team hasn't overcome a 2-0 deficit in the Davis Cup final since Australia stunned a Bobby Riggs-led United States squad in suburban Philadelphia way back in 1939.

Spain is now 4-0 all-time versus Argentina, including a road victory in the 2008 Davis Cup finale in Mar del Plata.

Hard-luck Argentina is still seeking that elusive first-ever championship, having now gone winless in four finals (1981, 2006, 2008, 2011).

Spain has captured 21 straight home ties, with its last home loss coming against Brazil in 1999.

Team Spain is captained by former French Open champion Albert Costa, while Tito Vazquez guided the Argentine contingent. Costa was also the captain when the Spaniards titled two years ago.

12/04 13:51:27 ET

Powered by The Sports Network.