Valencia | Ferrer wins the rubber of his life
Rafa Nadal continues his unbeaten run in Davis Cup play as he secured Spain’s place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2012 to remain unbeaten in their last 27 consecutive ties, two short of the record held by Italy. Spain haven’t lost a home tie since their first round in 1999.
But the star of the show was David Ferrer, a resident of Valencia, who won the match which could well have ended Spanish hopes in the Valencia Bull Ring. With Germany leading 2-1 following their doubles win on Saturday, Spain needed to win both the reverse singles on Sunday and, with the help of the partisan crowd, Ferrer led that recovery.
For me it's one of the best days of my life and I want to enjoy it this week David Ferrer
The Spanish No.2 played what must have been the match of his life as he battled for nearly five hours to beat his German counterpart, Philip Kohlschreiber 7-6(1) 3-6 7-6(4) 4-6 7-5 sparking off celebrations amongst the packed stadium, led by Rafa Nadal himself.
“I want to enjoy this moment,” said Ferrer, the world No.33. “For me it’s one of the best days of my life and I want to enjoy it this week.”
Credit was also given to Kohlschreiber who made the match, by the Spanish captain. “The match they both played was unbelievable,” Sergi Bruguera said. “I think both deserved to win. I think Philipp played one of the best matches I have ever seen him play.”
It was then left to Nadal to execute the coup de grace and he duly did. The world No.1 cruised past the 20-year-old World No.4 Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-4 6-4 to earn his 24th straight win since 2005, the most in Davis Cup history combining both singles and doubles matches.
Spain next face France, the defending champions, for a place in the final itself which Lucas Pouille settled when he defeated Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-1 7-6(3) 6-3 to give the French and unassailable 3-1 lead.
Pouille managed to keep his concentration despite the Italian No’1s antics of throwing his racket in frustration which he did twice when he failed to take then opportunities which came his way late in the third set – first he broke his racket over his knee after slamming it into the red clay court and then a few points later, after Pouille saved three set-points to even the set at 5-5, he flung his racket into a courtside chair in the vicinity of a ball boy.
“There is always pressure on Davis Cup,” the 11th-ranked Pouille said. “You want to do well for your friends, family, fans and all the team and that’s why it leaves this spicy taste in the Davis Cup.”
In the fourth set, the French captain Yannick Noah protested to the chair umpire about the crowd’s attempt to distract Pouille as he served.
Despite tjose attempts, Pouille came through hitting seven aces to Fognini’s two and commiting just 16 unforced errors to the Italian’s 28.
“The fans were incredible,” Pouille said. “They were fair and they were just noisy for us.”
“I was more consistent over the match,” Pouille added. “I had a tough first set but I kept trying and was playing better and better and it was a great effort to come back and win this one.”
It’s the third consecutive year France has reached the semifinals. “I’m sure we are going to have some good wine,” Noah said of his team’s celebration plans.
Croatia also made the last four when Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic cruised past Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1 6-1 6-1 to give them an unassailable 3-1 lead and will face the USA who clinched their place on Saturday when they won the dobles to take a 3-0 lead over Belgium.