España seems to be the flavour of the sporting world. They have been sweeping through competitions with regularity in 2008. With Spanish football enjoying a tremendously good fortune in Europe and with Rafael Nadal setting newer destinations of triumph, the Davis Cup win by the Spanish team comes on the heel of an extraordinary year for Spanish sportspersons. What makes this win delightfully arrogant is that the team won in the absence of Rafael Nadal, the foundation of all their wins in the previous rounds of the elite team competition and on hard courts, far from their favourite surface.

The Davis Cup holds a privileged site in the tennis map. Its glory can dignify a mediocre career and can uplift a great one to the echelons of the greatest. The Spanish team won the Cup after 2000 and they will go into next year’s competition as firm favourites now that they have certified an enormous win without their best man, Rafael Nadal.

The Argentine team comprised of David Nalbandian (former Wimbledon finalist 2003 known for his contra styled never-give-up tennis, as christened by Roger Federer), young top tenner this year Juan Martin Del Potro and perennial top hundred players Agustin Calleri and Jose Acasuso. The Spanish team boasted of David Ferrer, formerly ranked 4th in the world, Feliciano Lopez, a constant fixture in the top 25 in the world and Fernando Verdasco, another constant top hundred player.

The tie happened in Mar del Plata; Argentina gave the home advantage to the South American team but sadly, it could not capitalise that stroke of good luck. On the opening day, the singles ties were equally distributed between both the teams. David Nalbandian (ARG) defeated David Ferrer (ESP) 63 62 63 while Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 46 76(2) 76(4) 63. With equal heads going on into the second day, the doubles duo from Spain of Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) defeated David Nalbandian/Agustin Calleri (ARG) 57 75 76(5) 63.

The third day saw the birth of another Davis Cup hero in Fernando Verdasco who defeated Jose Acasuso (ARG) 63 67(3) 46 63 61 to clinch the tie in favour of Spain. This led the fifth rubber to be rendered useless and thus was not played. The Argentine team, though the favoured one due to the bench strength of its singles players, could not rise up to the occasion.

The win takes Spanish team to new heights. One can only hope that Indian tennis qualifies for the world-group next year. Its repeated failures at the play-offs seem to make our talent situation to precarious degrees.

Sayan Supratim Das

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