The Davis Cup by Rakuten is celebrating 120 years of history and despite the fact that Spain did not manage to win its first title until 2000, from then on it became one of the dominant teams in the competition for just over a decade. In 2011, the final looked exciting: the team led by Rafa Nadal was waiting in Seville for the Argentina of David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro. And memories of what happened in Mar del Plata in the 2008 final were still fresh.
Once again, Seville and its La Cartuja stadium wanted to be a talisman for the Spanish Davis Cup team in the first week of December. Seven years before, in 2004, that same stage had witnessed a Spanish victory in the final against the United States, led by Andy Roddick and the infallible Bryan brothers. A young Rafael Nadal lifted his first Davis Cup trophy that year, and in 2011 he wanted to add a third following Spain’s win in 2009 in Barcelona.
Spain had been slow to win its first Davis Cup; victory hadn't come until 2000. But since then the team had become one of the favourites, with titles in 2004, 2008 and 2009 and an appearance in the final in 2003. In 2011 the ‘Armada’ was looking for a fifth title.
But the battle was not going to be easy. Spain’s opponents were Argentina, who were about to add a new chapter to their long pilgrimage to the title. The ‘Albicelestes’ had never won. They had lost four previous finals, the most recent in painful fashion in 2008, in front of their home crowd in Mar del Plata, against a Spain who on that occasion had travelled without their number one player, Rafa Nadal, and who were playing on their least favourite surface, hard court.
Argentina came to Seville with a desire for revenge with its two most successful players of the last decade: Juan Martín del Potro and David Nalbandian, accompanied by Juan Monaco and Eduardo Schwank.
Spain had a strong team, a quartet virtually unbeaten in the Davis Cup, the same team that had won the title two years before in Barcelona. Along with Nadal were David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.
Nadal's reliability and Ferrer's heroics
On Sunday it was Rafa Nadal who added his second victory and took the title for Spain. Although Juan Martin del Potro had won 61 in the first set, the Spaniard had come back to take the next two sets 64 61 and to seal the victory 76(0) in the fourth set.
But without doubt, Friday was the key day. Nadal had beaten his good friend Monaco in the opening match in straight sets 61 61 62, and Ferrer expected the toughest of battles, against the colossus Del Potro. And David – against Goliath – achieved one of the most epic victories of his career. Finishing 62 67(2) 36 64 63 he took the match in pure gladiator style, not giving up on a single ball and having total faith in every opportunity.
Following the 2-0 win on the first day, Argentina saw their chance on Saturday winning their doubles match in three sets, with Nalbandian and Schwank beating Lopez and Verdasco 64 62 63.
Nadal, therefore, had the chance to take the title if he beat Del Potro on Sunday and with his usual dependability in the competition, he did not fail.
A year later Spain would make the final again, losing the title to the Czech Republic. It was not until 2019 that they reached the final once more, when, in the first edition of the new format Finals, they lifted the trophy in Madrid.
It took Argentina five years to reach the final again, when, in what is so far its only Davis Cup victory, the team beat Croatia in Zagreb in 2016.