Argentine, Spain leveled on 1st day in Davis Cup tennis final
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina: Contest between Argentine and Spain was leveled on the first day of the Davis Cup final here on Saturday.Feliciano Lopez, who had been handed the unenviable task of replacing injured world number one Rafael Nadal, stormed to Spain''s rescue on Friday when he levelled the Davis Cup final against Argentina. The stylish left-hander defeated Argentine number one Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 to make the score 1-1 after David Nalbandian had put the home side ahead with an easy 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over David Ferrer in the opening singles rubber. Lopez overcame a passionate 11,000-strong home crowd at the Estadio Islas Malvinas to see off the 1.98m (6ft 6in) giant Del Potro, the world number nine, who ended the match with a crippling groin injury which could rule him out of Sunday''s reverse singles. Del Potro, who had secured Argentina''s final place with a live fifth rubber win over Igor Andreev in September''s semi-final against Russia, had cruised through the first set with a break in the fifth game. But Lopez, seven years the Argentine''s senior, then took two nerve-tingling tie-breaks, defying the wild support of the local crowd who were repeatedly warned by the umpire to curb their enthusiasm. Del Potro hurt his groin when he went 2-4 down in the fourth set and he never recovered with Lopez taking the match after 3hrs 20mins when the home player netted a comfortable forehand. Nalbandian had little trouble seeing off the highly-strung Ferrer to give Argentina a boost in their bid to win a first ever Davis Cup title. Later Friday, Argentine captain Alberto Mancini announced that Nalbandian would replace Jose Acasuso in Saturday''s doubles rubber alongside Agustin Calleri against Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. Acasuso could instead replace Del Potro in Sunday''s reverse singles should the world number nine not recover from his injury. Argentina lost both of their previous Davis Cup final appearances - in 1981 against the USA and 2006 to Russia. Spain are appearing in their sixth Davis Cup final having won the title twice, beating Australia in 2000 and the United States in 2004.