x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Spain triumph in Davis Cup again

Home support sees defending champions extend their dominance on clay and become first team since 1998 to defend their title

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a ball against Jan Hajek of Czech Republic in the third singles match.
Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a ball against Jan Hajek of Czech Republic in the third singles match.

Spain improved on the margin for their second successive Davis Cup triumph, and their fourth in all, when they extended their lead over Czech Republic to 4-0 today. A home victory was hardly in doubt after the singles wins for Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco then sealed any chances of a comeback by beating Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek 7-6, 7-5, 6-2. Nadal, who set Spain on their way to victory by winning the first point on Friday, returned to the clay court at the Palau Sant Jordi to help himself to a second singles win. The world No 2, back fit and in form at the end of an injury-troubled season, broke Jan Hajek in his first service game of the third singles and had few problems sealing victory 6-3, 6-4. The result confirmed Spain's dominance on clay, especially at home. They were cheered by a sell-out crowd, as they became the first team to successfully defend the Davis Cup since Sweden in 1998. There was not much between the two teams in the first two sets on Saturday, with Spain's greater assurance on the clay surface, plus the ear-splitting support from the crowd, seeing them through the key moments.

Spain took the first set 9-7 on the tiebreak after Berdych had missed a chance to win it on his serve. The second was decided when Berdych, who struggled for form throughout, let slip 40-0 on his own serve to give Spain the break in game 11, Verdasco sealing the advantage with a crunching forehand from the baseline. Spain rode the momentum into the third set and completed another win at the same Montjuic arena, built for the Olympics in 1992, that played host to their first Davis Cup success. The victory over Australia here in 2000 was a watershed for Spain, who reached the final again in 2003, this time losing away to the Australians, before racking up further wins against the United States in 2004 and Argentina last year. * Reuters