First Radek Stepanek beat Pico 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2.
And then Tomas Berdych beat Leo 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
So after the first day the Czechs lead 2-0.
What's left of Argentina's hopes now rests on the shoulders of Charly and Horacio while Berdych and Stepanek will try to make short work of the Argentine team - all of that in tomorrow's doubles rubber. Also known as the match that David wanted to play.
|(Adrián Quiroga/Cancha Llena)|
Against Czech Davis Cup heroes Berdych and Stepanek, against the crowd at the O2 Arena and also against, or in spite of, the fast and low-bouncing surface. 'Enthusiasm, belief and the will to win - that's the mantra repeated by the players' as an Argentine journalist described it. They are the underdogs but it's not the first time this year and so far, they always managed to pull off the upset.
So here's what's ahead on the first day of play, today:
After the draw yesterday Pico put in extra training - at the net. Jaite admitted that Stepanek's nomination came as a surprise, they had expected Lukas Rosol. But while "against Rosol we wouldn't have known what kind of match he'd play we know exactly what's ahead with Stepanek..." to quote the captain (source).
And that's attacking, "old-school" tennis. A difficult match-up for Pico, who won't get the rhythm he likes. And Stepanek will be full of confidence after his US Open doubles title.
|(Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images)|
It's a somewhat unusual track record that Leo has in Davis Cup: He has never played at the Parque Roca before but this weekend he's contesting his fourth away tie. In the past, there were times when Leo didn't feel up to playing Davis Cup and his career has also been hampered by chronic back problems. But now he is ready, as well as "happy" and "grateful" that Jaite made him #2.
Leo's ambitious game plan for the match: "attacking him before he gets the chance to attack me" (source). But it won't be easy to execute against Berdych.
The last words ahead of the tie I'll leave to Martin Jaite:
The pressure is on them, they are playing at home, they are the defending champions and they chose the surface. We have nothing to lose but a lot to win.
I hope we can spoil their little party.
VAMOS PICO Y LEO! VAMOS ARGENTINA!!!
P.S. No jacket bearing the name Nalbandian in the Argentine locker room, this time...