Davis Cup Diary: Saturday – Spain Back From the Brink
February 3, 2013 · Print This Article
Slept in today, meaning I woke up at 6:30, while it’s still dark outside. Once again, I go down to the gym, where I run a mile on the treadmill and do a few sets of one-legged squats to get the blood flowing a bit. There’s a layer of fog outside, and you can see chairlifts on the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Amazing view.
A few readers commented about my breakfast yesterday. I decided to splurge and spend an extra $15 for the breakfast buffet. A good investment as you can see.
Yesterday I was too busy to really keep tabs on the other Davis Cup teams in action, so before heading out today, I watched the first set of the doubles match between the Czech Republic vs. Switzerland. Rosol served big as usual, but definitely wasn’t as good at the net as the other three players. Berdych still rocking no-name apparel in the wake of his deal with H&M.
Anyone doubting Jesse Levine’s commitment to Canada should speak with his girlfriend. She’s from New York and they met in Florida, but she shows up to the hotel lobby with a Tim Horton’s coffee in her hand and holding a big box of donuts. She’s also wearing a Canada flag print skirt. This one’s a keeper.
On the media bus driving toward UBC. I am speaking with Manuel, a veteran Spanish reporter and commentator for Eurosports. He thinks Marc Lopez and Granollers should come out stronger today, not only because their backs are against the wall, but also because the extra day’s makes a big difference for the jet-lagged Spanish pairing, who flew from Melbourne (after losing in the semis of the AO double draw) to Spain and then to BC in the span of three or four days. Then we talked about Davis Cup politics (he thinks the team roster should be expanded to five players, among other things) and the expectations in Spain for the #1 ranked ITF team.
Arriving at the stadium, a tournament volunteer recognized me from Tennisconnected, which is a surprise and kind of flattering. Then I ran into the UBC Cheerleading team.
Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers are warming up. Manuel says they are looking a lot more in form. Should be a good match later.
Milos Raonic, on his day off, is hitting with his coach Galo Blanco. He gives special attention to his forehand approach shot, asking Blanco to feed him low-bouncing backhand slices that he rips right off the bounce, inside-out to the opposing backhand corner.
Nestor and Pospisil on court.
The match is tied one-set all. The Canadians were clutch in Set 1, breaking at the last moment to take it 6-4. In the second, the Spaniards found a better rhythm while Nestor double-faulted twice in route to losing his serve. The momentum turned yet against the start of the third set. Canada leads 3-0.
Lopez’s forehand is the shot which is the most impressive. For a small guy, he gets a lot of stick on the ball. His swing is smooth and he isn’t afraid to move beyond the doubles alley on the ad court just to run around and hit his favorite shot.
The Canadian bench is definitely in the game, vocally cheering on Nestor/Pospisil at any opportunity. The presence of cheerleaders does momentarily distract their eyes during changeovers, however.
The Spaniards break back and get themselves into a tiebreak. Granollers misses three shots and Nestor sets up set point with a beauty of a drop half-volley. The crowd goes wild when Granollers nets another reaction shot. The noise level is comparable to a Montreal Canadians hockey game, except with only 10,000 in attendance instead of over 20,000. The Canadians are one set away from history.
Marc Lopez likes his forehand. At break point up, he runs around a second serve return and smacks the ball down the line. His momentum carries him into the side wall in front of the Spanish bench, where his team gives him warm congratulations. The Canadians can’t break back, and we are going to a fifth set.
The Spaniards two breaks up. The Canadians, pretty much out of gas, are playing meekly now.
Lopez serves it out and wins 6-1 in the fifth set. Sunday will be very interesting indeed.