David Nalbandian

David Nalbandian

The draw ceremony for the 2008 Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina was held on Thursday afternoon in Mar del Plata. Spain is sending out David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez for the first two singles rubbers, while Argentina will counter with David Nalbandian and Juan Martin Del Potro.

On Friday it will be Ferrer vs. Nalbandian and Lopez vs. Del Potro. Let’s take a look at the Day 1 singles participants.

David Ferrer – In 2008, Ferrer has almost endured two different seasons in one. The first half saw the Spaniard pick up where he left off in 2007 by producing outstanding tennis and keeping himself firmly entrenched in the Top 10. Ferrer made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the French Open and won smaller clay-court titles on both clay and grass. Beginning with the U.S. Open Series, however, he endured a brutal stretch of poor form. He now finds himself outside the Top 10 at No. 12 in the world.

David Nalbandian - Nalbandian’s 2008 path has also been up and down, but for the moment he and Ferrer are going in opposite directions. In 2007, Nalbandian ended an otherwise-brutal season with back-to-back Masters Series titles on the indoor hard courts of Madrid and Paris, and while he wasn’t quite as on fire at the conclusion of this season, the Argentine experience a similar fate. During this year’s indoor swing, he won a title in Stockholm and finished runner-up in both Basel (to Roger Federer) and Paris (to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga).

Ferrer-Nalbandian outlook – They have played nine times in their rivalry, and Ferrer holds a 6-3 advantage. All three of Nalbandian’s victories, however, have come on hard courts, while Ferrer has picked up most of his wins on clay. So the record is a bit of a misnomer. Ferrer is capable on fast surfaces, but Nalbandian is an indoor force. Not only does Nalbandian have the surface in his favor, he will also have a raucous Argentine crowd, looking for its country’s first-ever Davis Cup title, behind him. Nalbandian in four sets is the pick.

Feliciano Lopez – Lopez is an experienced Davis Cup participant and he is one of the few Spaniards in the history of tennis who actually prefer fast hard courts over clay. Lopez’s first half of the 2008 was mostly full of disappointing results except for a surprising runner-up finish in Dubai, but he started to turn it all around at Wimbledon and throughout the year-end hard-court swing. Lopez reached the quarterfinals at the All-England Club, the semifinals in Vienna, the quarterfinals at the Masters Series Madrid, and the semifinals in Basel. He is back near the Top 30 of the world rankings (at No. 31) and in position for a seed at the Australian Open 2009.

Juan Martin Del Potro – Lopez is in solid form, but Del Potro was absolutely on fire this summer. The 20-year-old Argentine tore up the tennis world almost out of nowhere, winning every single one of the four tournaments he played in between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He went on to reach the quarterfinals in New York before falling to U.S. Open runner-up Andy Murray in a tough four-set contest. Fatigue and a foot problem hobbled Del Potro throughout the recent indoor swing, but he did enough in the Masters Series events and in Basel to secure a spot at the Masters Cup.

Lopez-Del Potro outlook – The head-to-head series stands at Del Potro 2, Lopez 1, although Lopez won their only meeting this year in Miami. Del Potro has several factors going for him: current form, home-court advantage, and a recent huge win in Davis Cup play. He won the decisive fifth rubber against Igor Andreev to give Argentina a 3-2 win over Russia in the Davis Cup semifinals two months ago, so he knows how to handle this kind of pressure. Spain needs a Lopez victory to have a real chance of ultimately pulling off a Davis Cup upset, but it does not look like that will happen. Del Potro in four sets is the pick.


No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.