Nightmare in Mar del Plata

In that damn final for Argentina, with everything in favor, Spain gave the surprise and took the salad bowl. One of the worst memories of Argentine tennis.

23 November 2008. Fernando Verdasco defeats José Acasuso in four sets and gives Spain the third and final point, which takes the series. This, on paper, could be another defeat of the Argentine team, but it was much more. For starters, it wasn't just any series, it was a Davis Cup final. In addition, it was played in Mar del Plata, with a stadium filled with Argentine fans willing to see their team raise the first salad bowl in its history. And to add, in Spain he didn't have his best player available: Rafael Nadal.

But it's even more painful than all that. It all started in the semifinals when Argentina defeated Russia. In full exaltation for the victory, a young Juan Martín del Potro released the phrase: "We are going to be in the best way to get the calzones out of the ortho". A statement that only served to warm the final and that motivated the Spanish team.

There were also problems with the surface. Argentina decided to play in fast track, believing that with her they would have advantage especially in the duel before Nadal. However, due to the low number one Spanish number one injury, they decided to make a change, adding synthetic resin to make it a little slower. This only caused the players' discomfort before an impracticable court in which the ball bounced without control.

The series started for Argentina. Nalbandian pulled galone and endorsed Ferrer 3-0 (6-3, 6-2, 6-3), number one in Spain before Nadal's loss. However, Feliciano López surprised everyone by defeating Juan Martín del Potro (6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 3-6) and leaving the series matched on the first day.

The doubles was played in the second. David Nalbandían and Agustín Calleri was the couple chosen by 'Luli' Mancini, team captain. They would play against Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano López in what should be a turning point in the series in favor of Argentina. However, it was the opposite. In a five-set duel, the local couple fell apart and ended up giving the point (7-5, 5-7, 6-7, 3-6).

They arrived Sunday with Spain 2-1 ahead. In the morning, Mancini made the mistake of placing José Acasuso for the first game of the day. Del Potro had discomfort and decided to leave Nalbandian, his best player, for the fifth point. Surely, that cost the Salad Bowl.

"Verdasco is scared," the Spanish tennis player sang. In part, he had it: thousands of Argentine fans pressed him at the most important point of all. He started winning the first set, but Acasuso reacted to get 2-1. There came the Verdasco moment. The Spanish single took out his best tennis to pass the pressure to the rival. Acasuso was unable to overcome him, and began to feel nervous, aware that they were missing a unique occasion. Finally it was a 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6 and 1-6 for a duel that is already black history of Argentine tennis.

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