TENNIS

Ferrer leads Spain to Davis Cup semifinal against USA

World number five seals 23rd consecutive home success in beating Austria

Madrid - 08 Apr 2012 - 19:21
Spain's David Ferrer celebrates after winning the fourth Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Austrian Jurgen Melzer.
Spain's David Ferrer celebrates after winning the fourth Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Austrian Jurgen Melzer. JOSE JORDAN (AFP)

Spain took another step toward a sixth David Cup title since the turn of the century on Sunday when David Ferrer wrapped up a comfortable tie against Austria by beating world number 21 Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in the reverse singles.

World number 12 Nicolás Almagro set Alex Corretja’s team on its way in the opening rubber on Friday, also beating Melzer, Austria’s talisman, in straight sets before Ferrer dispatched Andreas Haider-Maurer, ranked 134 places below the world number five, for the loss of just five games.

Austria’s doubles team of Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya gave the visitor hope on Saturday, defeating Marc López and Marcel Granollers 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6. But the redoubtable Ferrer chalked up his 14th undefeated Davis Cup outing on clay to extend Spain’s winning streak of home ties to 23. Almagro then dispatched Peya in the final rubber to seal a 4-1 win for the host.

In order to reach the final, Spain will have to defeat the USA, which can call on the world number 9, Mardy Fish, 11, John Isner, and the world number-one doubles pair of Bob and Mike Bryan, in September. However, Corretja’s team will have home advantage for the tie, meaning the USA will be forced to snap Spain’s formidable home record on the host’s favorite surface, clay.

I enjoy playing on clay and I feel I can do very well on it," says Isner

There is historical precedent for American optimism; Spain fell to the USA in 1971 in Barcelona, but since then the Armada has held firm on home soil and even managed to plunder the quarterfinal tie in last year’s tournament in Austin, Texas. In all, the two nations have played six ties since 2000, when Spain won its first Davis Cup, with four wins for Spain and two for the USA, both achieved on the other side of the Atlantic.

Jim Courier’s team reached the last four by beating France 2-3 on clay in Roquebrune, the first defeat inflicted on the host on home soil in six years. In 2010, France handed Spain a whitewash in the quarterfinals in Clermont-Ferrand.

Isner was instrumental in overcoming a 1-0 deficit after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Ryan Harrison on Friday. The world number 11 beat Gilles Simon in the second rubber and then Tsonga, ranked six, on Sunday.

Ominously, Isner enjoys getting his socks full of grit: “I like playing on clay. I played three of my best matches this year [on clay]; my best wins have come on clay. It’s a surface I enjoy playing on and a surface I feel I can do very well on.”

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