Spain’s Ferrer eliminates United States from Davis Cup

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Spain’s team celebrates by tossing David Ferrer, who defeated Mardy Fish of the United States, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) during a Davis Cup tennis quarterfinal match Sunday. Spain won 3-1.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

David Ferrer lost just one set all weekend. America had no chance.

The Spaniard embarrassed Austinite Andy Roddick on Friday in straight sets, then eliminated Mardy Fish and Team USA on Sunday, winning 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) to give Spain a final 3-1 win over the U.S. in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Ferrer, the No. 6 player in the world, flummoxed Fish time and time again. He was a human backboard, sitting on the far end of the court and returning everything hit his way.

“He’s very good from the baseline,” Fish said after the match. “He’s one of the best movers in the world. That’s how he makes his living.”

It looked as if Ferrer would make it a short afternoon for the announced 16,000 in attendance at the Frank Erwin Center, making quick work of Fish in the first two sets. But the American battled back to win the third set 7-5 and put some pressure on Ferrer.

“There was a lot of tension in the match,” Ferrer said.

Fish had his chances. He led 5-3 in the first set before committing 20 unforced errors — his backhand shot seemed magnetically drawn to the net — and allowing Ferrer to break his serve twice. He lost the second set on a tiebreaker, 7-3. The fourth could have gone Fish’s way too, but Ferrer outlasted him on another tiebreaker.

“He just kind of came up with one or two better shots than I did,” Fish said.

Considering how successful Ferrer has been in his career slapping shots back and forth from the baseline, Fish and U.S. Captain Jim Courier decided to turn to a more aggressive approach in the final sets, which yielded better results.

“We wanted to put a lot of pressure on him [at the net],” Fish said. “I wanted to utilize my volleys a little bit, try to strike through the court low and hard.”

The change managed to frustrate Ferrer a bit — he was issued a warning after crushing a ball into the mezzanine — but it wasn’t enough.

“There’s a reason he’s No. 6 in the world,” Fish said.

That’s a startling fact for the other national powers in men’s tennis, because Ferrer isn’t even the best singles player in Spain. That honor belongs to the world’s No. 2, Rafael Nadal, who was a late Davis Cup scratch.

“Spain is probably the deepest nation out there in men’s tennis. That’s a great advantage to have, no doubt about it,” Courier said.

The Americans had advantages as well. Fish and Roddick, the No. 8 and No. 10 players in the world, respectively, are no scrubs. And the pro-USA crowd at the Erwin Center was louder than it is for most basketball games.

“The crowd was incredible,” Fish said. “It’s the loudest Davis Cup I’ve ever been a part of.”
Had Fish beaten Ferrer, Roddick would have played Feliciano Lopez (who beat Fish in Friday’s first match) in the decisive rubber match.

“I badly wanted to get to the point where we could get Andy out there playing for the fifth match,” Fish said. “That’s the hardest part for me, knowing how much he wanted the Davis Cup to be here in Austin. It would have been a great ending for the tie here, him playing in front of his home fans.”

It didn’t happen. David Ferrer was just too good.

Printed on 07/11/2011 as: Davis Cup Defeat