THE FINAL of the world team competition saw Spain take on the United States in Seville last weekend. A record number of 27,200 home fans turned part of the massive Estadio Olimpico into a boiling cauldron giving the Americans more that just their on-court opponents to contend with. Security was also high on the agenda with over 2,000 police present to guarantee that the spectacle passed without incident.
Both non-playing team captains laid their reputations on the line with controversial selections. Spain’s, Jordi Arrese, dropped the top-10-ranked, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in favour of the 18-year-old, World No. 51, Rafael Nadal to play alongside the experienced Carlos Moya. Patrick McEnroe relied on Andy Roddick’s friendship with Mardy Fish, preferring the World No. 37 to the higher ranked, Vince Spadea, already proven on clay.
The Americans’ tactic backfired as early as Day 1, Fish never finding his feet against Moya’s raking ground strokes, the Spaniard easily winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Roddick was expected to restore parity to the tie, but was dominated at the net by his brilliant opponent. Nadal left the Americans with a mountain to climb with a memorable 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 win over the World No. 2 that left doubles experts, Bob and Mike Bryan, to keep the US from an early defeat on Saturday against the Tommy Robredo/Juan Carlos Ferrero partnership. The twins duly obliged with a facile 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win. But the victory only proved to be a stay of execution for the United States. Carlos Moya dismantled Roddick’s game in the first reverse singles rubber to hand Spain an emphatic victory with his 6-2, 7-6, 7-6 success.