Nadal and Granollers send Spain into semis with doubles win over Argentina

Rafael Nadal and Marcel Granollers survived a nail-biting doubles showdown with Máximo González and Leonardo Mayer to book a semi-final date for Spain against Great Britain at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals on Friday.

After Nadal cancelled out Guido Pella’s three-set victory over Pablo Carreño Busta in the opening match of the tie, by defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2, the world No.1 returned to the court to team up with Granollers for a thrilling 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 success against their Argentine opponents in front of a roaring capacity crowd at Caja Mágica.

It was the second tie of the day decided by a three-set doubles clash, following Russia’s dramatic triumph over Serbia earlier on Centre Court, and it was equally gripping.

“It’s great news. We had to be back against the score again, but I think we had great team spirit, we have a lot of great people out there on the bench supporting and of course the crowd is just amazing, so we can’t thank enough all of them,” said a jubilant Nadal.

“Very happy for the victory, Marcel played an amazing match I think. It’s late, we need to go to rest,” added the Mallorcan, whose match ended past 1:00am.

"I think we had great team spirit, we have a lot of great people out there on the bench supporting and of course the crowd is just amazing"

After splitting the opening two sets, Spain drew first blood in the decider, as a Granollers backhand return winner saw them break for 2-0. The Spaniards maintained their one-break advantage until Nadal served out the victory in two hours 26 minutes.

Before the start of the tie, a moment of silence was observed in honour of Roberto Bautista Agut’s father, who passed away on Thursday. As the Spanish players lined up for the pre-tie ceremony, they left a space between them for their absent team-mate and played with black ribbons tied to their shirts.

“It’s the saddest thing you can have in your life what happened to Roberto, everybody was very affected, but we had to play today – he was encouraging us also, that shows what kind of person Roberto is,” Spain captain Sergi Bruguera said.  

Stepping on court to the tune of Carmina Burana echoing through Caja Mágica’s Centre Court a nerveless Nadal needed just one hour to level the tie for Spain against Argentina.

Extending his unblemished record against Schwartzman to 9-0 head-to-head, Nadal was in imperious form as he won 100 per cent of his first serve points on his way to a 26-minute opening set, and concluded the match with an eighth ace to make it 1-1 for Spain against their South American rivals.

“I have been playing great. Great serve, played aggressive from the baseline, I had the breaks early in the sets and that helps,” said Nadal before he rushed off court to get ready for the decisive doubles match.

It’s very tough to play Davis Cup and I think today with this amazing atmosphere, it was very difficult for me to compete because there are like 10,000 Spanish [spectators] here

In the first singles match of the tie, Pella fired 11 aces en route to an impressive 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-1 triumph over Carreno Busta to lift Argentina to a 1-0 lead.

In a tight two-hour 39-minute affair, Pella avenged his recent US Open defeat to Carreno Busta by shocking the capacity crowd in Madrid with a bold display against the Spanish world No.27.

“It was one of the most difficult matches of my entire career,” said Pella. “It’s very tough to play Davis Cup and I think today with this amazing atmosphere, it was very difficult for me to compete because there are like 10,000 Spanish [spectators] here. But I think I played really, really well after I lost the first set and I think till the end I played great match.”

Reporting for duty in the absence of Bautista Agut was Carreno Busta, who had been on the sidelines for Spain so far this week.

The Spanish No.3 entered the clash with a 2-3 win-loss record in Davis Cup singles matches and a 2-0 lead in career meetings with Guido Pella, most recently a four-set victory over the Argentine in the US Open first round two months ago.

Spain will face Great Britain on Saturday at 17:30 local time.

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