ODENSE, September 19, 2015
It seemed as Spanish team captain Conchita Martínez didn’t want to take any risks when she announced that Rafael Nadal will replace Roberto Bautista-Agut to feature alongside Fernando Verdasco on Saturday’s third rubber of the Davis Cup Group I Play-Offs between Denmark and Spain.
The two lefties took on former doubles Wimbledon champion Frederik Nielsen and part-time tennis player Thomas Kroman. The latter, currently a student without any ranking points, played his first match since teaming up with Nielsen in March’s Davis Cup tie against Russia. His last match on the tour took place at an US-$ 10,000 ITF event in Copenhagen in July last year.
As expected, Nadal and Verdasco won the encounter 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 and therewith the tie in favour of Spain but the match was symbolic for the entire weekend in Odense. The highly favoured Spaniards played solid and more effective in the deciding moments but didn’t gain the victory in a brilliant way.
On Saturday, Denmark only developed hope for the sweet smell of victory in the middle of the third set when they were close to gain the deciding break. It was the stage of the match when the Danish spectators in the not fully packed Idraetshal arena created a serious Davis Cup atmosphere, but Nielsen produced two doubles faults in the deciding moment of the tie-break, making Spain the present of gaining the third set.
The Danish fought hard until the end and even Kroman, who had to be considered as the weakest link in this affair, enhanced his performance throughout the match. Yet, in the end it was Verdasco serving it out after three hours of play to secure Spain’s spot in Group I of the Davis Cup.
Nielsen and Kroman spoke to Tennis TourTalk after the match:
The Danish team also gained the respect from the Spaniards. “It wasn’t easy today. Nielsen is a Wimbledon champion and a fantastic doubles player. It was a tough match, very close in the first set. That was the key. We are happy to close it out in the fourth,” Nadal was pleased with the result and added that they will fight next year in order to return to the World Group stage of the Davis Cup.
Off the court, the Spaniards seemed to enjoy their stay in Denmark. “It is a beautiful city here and waking up this morning with the sunshine was amazing. It was a great week for us with nice people around us. The organization was perfect. We felt like home, also thanks to the great support from the Spanish fans,” Nadal said and did not want to confirm the chances of teaming up with Verdasco at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.
If the former world number one will step into action on Sunday again is also uncertain. “I have to talk to my players and then we will see,” Spanish team captain Conchita Martínez stated.