|Argentina's David Nalbandian. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo
Seville, Spain - Argentina needed a clutch doubles victory in order to stay alive against host Spain in the 2011 Davis Cup final, and that's exactly what happened Saturday in Seville.
A quality Argentine tandem of David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank whipped an all-left-handed Spanish duo of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, in just under two hours on the red clay at Olympic Stadium. This marked the first-ever Davis Cup partnership between Nalbandian and Schwank, who was a French Open doubles finalist back in June.
The mighty Spaniards still lead this best-of-five tie, 2-1, as Sunday's reverse singles will determine the newest Davis Cup champion.
Nalbandian and Schwank piled up five service breaks against Lopez and Verdasco, who were unable to break their counterparts from South America on Day 2.
"It's unbelievable for us," an excited Nalbandian said after playing and winning his first doubles match in six months.
Sunday's star-studded rubbers currently pit Spanish hero Rafael Nadal against his fellow former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and David Ferrer versus Argentina's Juan Monaco. The former top-five star and former Wimbledon runner-up Nalbandian, however, could be called into duty on Day 3. He was left out of the Argentine singles lineup here on Friday.
In Friday's opening singles, the former world No. 1 and currently second- ranked Nadal and No. 5 Ferrer gave the mighty Spaniards a seemingly-commanding 2-0 advantage, as Nadal dismantled the world No. 26 Monaco 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 and Ferrer outlasted the 23-year-old world No. 11 del Potro 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
The 25-year-old Nadal and 29-year-old Ferrer are a combined 27-0 all-time on clay for Spain in Davis Cup play. Victories by Nadal or Ferrer on Sunday would produce a fifth Davis Cup title for Spain since 2000, which would include three championships in the last four years.
The six-time French Open champ Nadal is 19-1 lifetime in his Davis Cup singles, including 19 straight wins and an unbeatable 15-0 record on his beloved clay. The 10-time Grand Slam champ was this year's French Open winner and Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up.
Powerful Spain is 3-0 all-time versus Argentina, including a road victory in the 2008 Davis Cup finale in Mar del Plata. While the Spaniards have won four of the last 11 Davis Cup titles, Argentina is still seeking that elusive first-ever championship, having gone 0-3 in its previous finals (1981, 2006, 2008).
Spain has won 20 straight home ties, with its last home loss coming against Brazil back in 1999.
Team Spain is captained by former French Open champion Albert Costa, while Tito Vazquez is guiding the Argentine contingent.