Spain beat Argentina to win third Davis Cup crown

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Spain won its third Davis Cup title despite missing top-ranked Rafael Nadal, upsetting Argentina 3-1 in the final on Sunday.

Updated: November 24, 2008 09:52 IST
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Mar Del Plaza:

Spain won its third Davis Cup title despite missing top-ranked Rafael Nadal, upsetting Argentina 3-1 in the final on Sunday.

Fernando Verdasco defeated Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 as Spain won the best-of-five final 3-1 in front of a boisterous Argentine crowd at Islas Malvinas Stadium. Argentina lost at home for the first time in 10 years in Davis Cup competition.

Verdasco, replacing David Ferrer in the reverse singles, overcame nine double-faults to beat a shaky Acasuso in 3 hours, 56 minutes.

The 48th-ranked Acasuso was a late replacement for the injured Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina's top-ranked player at No. 9.

Spain won its first Davis Cup title win on the road, adding to home victories against Australia in the 2000 final and the United States in 2004.

After winning match point, Verdasco dropped to the ground in celebration and was embraced by his teammates.

"It's the most exciting victory of my life," Verdasco said. "Playing for my country, against the best players, it's a dream. I have to thank God for this moment."

Argentina, which last lost in front of its fans in 1998 to Slovakia, had reached the final twice previously, losing to the U.S. in 1981 and Russia in 2006. It was its first final at home.

Argentina had entered the final heavily favored to win its first title after Nadal withdrew last week because of a knee injury.

Nadal said he would have loved to be in Argentina to celebrate with his teammates.

"Moments like these, sharing them with your teammates are unforgettable," Nadal said. "They played a tremendous tie - it's time for them to enjoy it. I enjoyed watching a lot. Nervously, but that's normal."

Verdasco was quick to recognise the efforts of the other players who helped Spain reach the final, including Nadal, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro.

But despite the support of nearly 10,000 fans, Acasuso was not able to keep up with Verdasco, who had played well in the doubles' victory alongside Feliciano Lopez. Acasuso served 14 aces, but his 47 unforced errors kept him from breaking through.

Both players struggled on serve, with Verdasco being broken five times and Acasuso nine.

Acasuso had won his only other match against Verdasco, whose Davis Cup singles record improved to 4-3. Acasuso is 5-3.

The 20-year-old Del Potro, one of the hottest players on tour this year, injured his right thigh in a four-set loss to Lopez on Friday.

Verdasco came in for David Ferrer after he lost his singles match in three sets to David Nalbandian, also on Friday.

Spain's doubles win Saturday ensured it needed just one victory on the final day to clinch the title, while the Argentines were left with the difficult task of having to win both Sunday matches.

Verdasco broke Acasuso's service in the sixth game, going up 4-2 to easily win the first set.

That silenced the crowd, but Acasuso lifted the fans by winning the second-set tiebreaker after each player broke twice. One of the breaks came when Acasuso was serving for the set at 5-4.

The Argentine kept pressing in the third set, breaking Verdasco in the first game and twice more to lead 2-1 despite dropping serve twice.

Verdasco stayed in the match with a solid fourth set, breaking Acasuso to lead 4-2 and winning four of the last five games.

The Spaniard then dominated the fifth set, winning the first four games and cruising to victory.

The scheduled match between Nalbandian and Lopez would not be played.

The title moved Spain from fourth to second in Davis Cup rankings, behind Russia. Argentina would have reached No. 1 with a victory.

It was Spain's third win over Argentina in as many attempts. The other two victories, in 1926 and 2003, came at home on clay. The Argentines chose the blue indoor hard-court for the final, trying to curtail the Spaniards' advantage on clay.

It was only the 12th time in 28 finals that the home team had lost since the inaugural World Group in 1981.

It was the second time the Davis Cup final was held in Latin America, after Chile lost to Italy in 1976. Argentina joined Romania and India as the only nations to fail to win a title in its first three final appearances.

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