Well, holy crap. They did it, they actually did it. Against all odds when pretty much everyone was writing them off, they pulled it out. It wasn't pretty and Lady Luck was on their side, but you know what they say, you make your own luck.
Who would have thought that the heroes of the team that would bring home Spain's first Davis Cup won on foreign soil would be FeLo and Nando? The boys better known for the their looks and their black books (and more than occasional HoYay) sealed this one up for Spain. FeLo with his gutsy win over Elf on Friday, both of them for their doubles win yesterday, and Nando, whose win today avoided a deciding tie between FeLo and Nalby. And let's face it, Nalby would have taken that one.
But boy, it wasn't easy. Because of Elf's leg injury, Mancini subbed in Acasuso and Emilio responded by tapping Nando over Farquaad. I was streaming the match from my hotel room and at the airport and I was one tense mothercrapper. Fer came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and clearly overmatched a very nervous Chucho, taking the first set 64. But then the serving yips (one of the few things he has in common with his girlfriend) hit him and the second and third sets were just ugly. Fer and Chucho broke each other back and forth, and just when one seemed to have the momentum they would go on stretches of gutless play. It really was infuriating.
But Nando righted the ship in the fourth, and as I predicted, Chucho just didn't have anything left in the tank. They guy hadn't played a match in weeks and he was clearly not match fit. By the time the fourth set was over, Chucho was on the Argentine bench begging his abs rubbed down for something, and he was barely there in the deciding fifth set. Nando would eventually win 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Get ready, Ana. You better start stretching now. Daddy's coming home and he had a pretty big day.
Not enough can be said about the fantastic job Emilio did with this team, especially in contrast with Argentina's Mancini. People will always second guess Argentina's choice of surface (indoor over clay). The supposed infighting within the team, with reports of Fatty being pissed at Elf for going to Shanghai instead of focusing on Davis Cup, allegedly coming to blows with Calleri after their doubles loss, and blowing off the post match presser and getting fined. All this should have been nipped in the bud early. I feel bad for Mancini. He got dealt a shitty hand with the injuries and what not. But a huge part of being a good captain is managing your personnel. I get that Fat Dave wanted this more than anyone, but dude, it's a team competition and you have to be a good teammate. So immature. I hope you enjoy your Twinkies. Just remember, they're food, not feelings.
In contrast, Emilio, much like Patrick McEnroe last year, built a team that put country first. They were true teammates. They liked each other (some might say they *more* than like each other). It was a smart move from him to tell Rafa to stay home. Genius to tap FeLo over Fer in the second rubber against Elf. Nando and Fer clearly took their doubles roles seriously, as they had been entering tournaments all year to hone their teamwork. And then, tapping Nando to face Chucho instead of the slumping Ferrer. So smart.
Unfortunately Emilio announced that he'll be stepping down as Captain after this. So no more hottie McHottie pics of Emilio. Sad face.
This is a hard one for Argentina and their fans to swallow. They came in as such presumptive favorites. But really, their chances pretty much went out the window the minute Elf pulled up lame on Friday. I think the assumption has always been that Spain would taket he doubles tie but Argentina would dominate in singles. So without Elf, it was an uphill battle. I really really really thought they were going to pull it out though. I didn't think Nando had the balls to gut it out against Chooch.