Spain stun Argentina to take 2-1 Davis Cup lead

Other News Materials 23 November 2008 00:10 (UTC +04:00)

Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco combined to win a momentum-shifting doubles rubber on Saturday, clawing out a 2-1 lead for Spain in the Davis Cup final against Argentina, dpa reported.

The visitors produced a shock over David Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in three hours and 17 minutes to send the Iberians into command for the first time this weekend.

Argentina has been relying on the home court advantage and 11,000 partisans in the stands in hopes of claiming a first-ever trophy in the world team competition.

But stunning doubles loss and the likely injury absence of Juan Del Potro from Sunday's key reverse singles could be telling.

Del Potro, who exploded into a Top ten threat this year with four straight summer titles, crashed in Friday singles and as injuries and general fatigue caught up with him.

The 20-year-old appears unlikely to take to the court on the must-win Sunday.

Del Potro hurt his groin early in his loss to Feliciano Lopez and had been carrying a painful infected toenail problem since the US Open.

The youngster was said to be "mentally shattered" due to "tiredness, nerves and sheer effort " according to team doctor Diego Rivas.

Argentine captain Alberto Mancini and his disappointed squad quickly left the court after the doubles loss, with strategy on whom to play on Sunday the key to any possible salvation of the biggest weekend in national Davis Cup history.

Likely to be thrown into the breach in the final day is Jose Acasuso, with substitutions allowed up to one hour before matches.

Like Del Potro's match the day before when he won the first set and then let victory slide away, the doubles began with equal promise for the hosts.

Nalbandian and Calleri claimed the first set in 46 minutes with one break of serve but suddenly found themselves outplayed by Lopez and Verdasco.

After the Spaniards levelled at a set each, they carried their momentum forward by in spectacular fashion, holding off an Argentine rally from 1-5 down in the third set and then winning the last six points of the tiebreaker to seal it.

Up a break 4-2 in the fourth, the visitors completed the day to leave the crowd in shock, with Argentina now needing to win both Sunday rubbers for a comeback victory.

Spain is playing without world number one Rafael Nadal, who is healing a knee injury.