Argentina takes lead over Croatia in Davis Cup
David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank defeated Croatians Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic in a five-hour doubles to give Argentina a 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup quarterfinal on Saturday.
Argentina won 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-7 (6), 8-6 and will be strong favorites to clinch victory on the outdoor clay court in Sunday's reverse singles when Argentina's top player, Juan Martin Del Potro, leads off against Cilic. Nalbandian would face Karlovic in the last singles.
It was a day of errors. Argentina double-faulted 14 times with 11 for Croatia, and each team blew numerous chances to take advantage.
"It was very tough," said Nalbandian, who lost a five-hour singles on Friday against Cilic. "The wind was a problem for all of us. But we took advantage of some opportunities. Conditions yesterday and today were very difficult."
Asked if he was tired after 10 hours of tennis in two days, he replied: "No, I'm OK."
The tennis wasn't great, but the atmosphere was football-like at Parque Roca with 14,000 fans cheering or jeering nearly every point.
Tied at 6-6 in the final set with Karlovic serving, Argentina broke the big-serving Croat when Cilic hit a volley into the net. Schwank served out the final game with Argentina winning on Cilic's backhand return into the net.
Croatia came out fast in the first set and broke Argentina in the eighth game on Nalbandian's double fault. Croatia closed out the set on Karlovic's serve to win 6-3.
Both teams were broken on their first service games in the second set. After that it went to serve with Argentina taking the tightly contested tiebreaker 8-6.
That victory gave Argentina momentum in the third set with the South Americans breaking Cilic and Karlovic in their last two service games to win 6-3.
Nalbandian probably cost Argentina the fourth set. He double-faulted four times in the set - three times when Argentina was broken in the 11th game for Croatia's 6-5 lead. He double-faulted again in the tiebreaker won 8-6 by Croatia.
Argentina has beaten Croatia in two previous quarterfinals, in 2002 in Buenos Aires, and in 2006 in Zagreb.
The Argentines have reached the Davis Cup final four times and have yet to win it. They lost last year's final to Spain.