The host nation Spain is through to the semi-final at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, beating Argentina 2-1 in another late finish at Caja Magica. It was an entertaining tie between former champions and world no. 1 Rafael Nadal made the difference, scoring another commanding singles triumph and helping Marcel Granollers to wrap up the doubles rubber and propel his country into Saturday's semi-final against Great Britain.
In the first match, Guido Pella ousted Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 after two hours and 49 minutes to push Argentina in front and mount the pressure on the host team. Pella struggled on the second serve but enough to cross the finish line first, getting broken three times from five opportunities offered to the Spaniard.
On the other hand, Carreno Busta got broken four times, staying in touch with Pella in sets one and two before fading from the court in the decider. Pablo made a rock-solid start, serving well and earning a break in game seven that sent him 5-3 up, serving for the set in the tenth game.
He wasted a set point and allowed Guido to break back, setting up a tie break that the home player won 7-3 after forcing a backhand error from the Argentine. Pella broke in the ninth game of the second set, squandering three set points on serve in the next game before giving serve away to bring another tie break where he had the upper hand after an early mini-break, clinching it 7-4 after a service winner to keep his chances alive.
With the momentum on his side, a left-hander broke in the fourth game and once again at 4-1, moving over the top with an ace in game seven to move Argentina closer to the place in the semis. Still, they couldn't hope of getting there after the second rubber, as world no.
1 Rafael Nadal toppled Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour to earn the first point for Spain. Never losing a point behind the first serve, Nadal dropped only six points overall behind the initial shot, keeping his service games safe and mounting the pressure on Schwartzman who couldn't endure it despite the fact he served at 76%!
Rafa claimed half of the return points and grabbed four breaks from seven chances, marching towards the 28th consecutive Davis Cup victory! It was an incredible performance from world no. 1 in the opener, dominating on both serve and return to wrap it up in less than 30 minutes and gather momentum ahead of set number two.
He held at love with a backhand down the line winner and broke in game two after a backhand mistake from Diego who was yet to find his strokes. A double fault cost Schwartzman his service game at 1-4, allowing Nadal to close the set with a volley winner a few minutes later for a 6-1.
Crumbling the opponent with deep and accurate strokes, Rafa earned a break in the third game of the second set, extending the advantage to a 4-1 when Diego sprayed a backhand error in game five and moving closer to the finish line.
Serving for the victory, Nadal landed an ace down the T line in the eighth game, leveling the score at 1-1 ahead of the deciding doubles rubber. There, Rafael Nadal and Marcel Granollers defeated Leonardo Mayer and Maximo Gonzalez 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in just under two and a half hours to secure the overall Spanish victory and start a massive celebration.
The Spanish pair fended off four out of six break chances, earning three breaks in sets one and three that were enough to secure the place in the semis. Rafa and Marcel opened a 4-1 lead in the first set before they squandered the advantage, only to close the set with another break in game ten for a 6-4.
The Argentines converted their only chance in the second set at 1-1 after a smash winner from Gonzalez, winning it 6-4 and looking good ahead of the decider. Instead of that, Rafa and Marcel found a new boost, breaking thanks to Pablo's backhand winner that proved to be one of the crucial shots of the entire tie.
Delivering one good hold after another, Nadal and Granollers crossed the finish line at 5-3, hoping for more of the same against the Britons on Saturday.