And now for a quick (who am I kidding, mammoth) round-up of the ties still left to be settled on Sunday.
Spain 2 – Switzerland 1
Not the start that Spain wanted, as Nicolas Almagro lost a tough five-set match to Switzerland’s (in Davis Cup parlance) no. 1, new daddy Stanislas Wawrinka. Luckily Davis Cup warrior David Ferrer was on hand to steady the ship, dismissing Marco Chiudinelli in straight sets to even things up heading into the doubles.
I thought that if Switzerland could win the doubles, they would have a nice chance of nicking the tie come Sunday. But there’s that damned depth again. Perennial Davis Cup bridesmaid Marcel Granollers teamed up with Tommy Robredo to defeat Yves Allegro and Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets, leaving Switzerland 1-2 and with a fatigued top singles player heading in to Sunday. Nicely done, Spain.
Russia 2 – India 1
With Nikolay Davydenko out with an injured wrist and Igor Andreev suddenly sidelined with a knee injury, Igor Kunitsyn (who looks like he’s in the last stages of Shelleyesque consumption, but apparently isn’t) was hurriedly pitchforked into the team and did a nice job, grabbing a four-set win from India’s Somdev Devvarman before Mikhail Youzhny put Russia 2-0 up over Rohan Bopanna.
It’s not quite over yet, though, as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi once again put aside their history of falling out and teamed up to flatten Russia in the doubles, 63 62 62.
Shamil despairs. Like a fox.
Sweden 1 – Argentina 2
Things didn’t start off well for Our Heroes, as Eduardo Schwank was dismissed in straight sets by Robin Soderling.
But an unlikely hero stepped up in the form of Leonardo ‘horseface’ Mayer, who came back from a set down to give Argentina their first point against Joachim Johansson.
Actually the best photo of him I could find.
And then who should hove into view (can you ‘hove’? did I make up that word?) but El Rey himself, David Nalbandian, who teamed up with Horacio Zeballos to take the doubles from Soderling and Lindstedt in straight sets.
Understandably, Nalbandian will get a lot of the credit for this win, but I really have to highlight the brilliant performance of Horazio Zeballos. The Zebutante really impressed on his first Davis Cup outing, staying cool and frequently producing fantastic shots under pressure. I’ve never really watched him play before, but he must have produced close to if not his best tennis on this occasion, a hard thing to do in Davis Cup especially with a legend-in-his-own-lunchtime next to you on the court. Great stuff. If Argentina lose this tie (they will), it won’t be his fault.
I’m told his nickname in Argentina translates to ‘onion’. Do with that information what you will.
Serbia 2 – United States 1
Well, well. Serbia looked well in control after Friday’s singles play against the next generation US team, with Troicki edging John Isner in four tight sets and Djokovic taking care of Querrey, also in four sets.
Things looked pretty rosy for the Serbian team when the news broke that Mike Bryan was suffering from food poisoning and would be replaced by John Isner for Saturday’s doubles. But it didn’t quite work out that way, and a lot of the credit has to go to John Isner. Despite enthusiastic (and sexy) support from the bench …
… the US won in four sets, 76(8) 57 76(8) 63, helped slightly by a controversial call in the third-set tiebreak but mainly by the level head of Bob Bryan and some really impressive work from John Isner. It takes serious, er, mental toughness to bounce back from a disappointing singles debut and put in the kind of performance he did in an unfamiliar milieu on his least favourite surface, against hostile crowd no less. Impressive.
Chile 2 Israel 0
After a day’s delay (and a minute’s silence for the victims of the Chilean earthquake), the postponed tie got under way today with singles action and both Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez performed for their country, winning in four sets and (in Gonzo’s case) with the due amount of theatrics.