Ferrer fires champs Spain into quarterfinals

Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez hand Chile a formidable 2-0 lead over Israel
Last Updated 07 March 2010, 15:58 IST

Ferrer's victory in the first-round tie in Logrono gave Spain, missing injury casualties Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero, an unbeatable 3-1 lead as they bid for a third consecutive title.

France, 2009 finalists Czech Republic and 2005 winners Croatia all progressed 3-0 on Saturday, the French defeating Germany in Toulon, Czech Republic ousting Belgium in Bree and the Croats seeing off Ecuador in Varazdin.

World number 16 Ferrer took the first set on the clay at the Plaza de Toros de la Ribera, before 19th-ranked Wawrinka stormed back to open a 4-1 lead in the second.

However, the Spaniard reeled off five straight games and Wawrinka lost his cool at 5-4 down, smashing his racket into the ground and incurring a point penalty.

The Swiss, leading his side in the absence of world number one Roger Federer, fell to pieces in the third set in the face of some brilliant play from Ferrer that delighted the boisterous red and yellow-clad Spanish fans.

Exemplary record
It was Spain's 19th straight win in Davis Cup home ties stretching back to a defeat by Brazil in 1999.

"Playing here in front of your fans is the greatest thing for a tennis player," Ferrer said in a television interview.

"The match against France will be a tough hurdle but I think we have the squad to keep this run going."

The Czechs will play Chile or Israel in July's quarters, while Croatia will take on the United States or Serbia.

The tie between Chile and Israel in Coquimbo was rescheduled to start on Saturday because of the disruption caused by last weekend's earthquake and the Chileans took both points in the opening singles for a 2-0 lead going into Sunday's doubles.

Nicolas Massu battled back from a set down to beat Dudi Sela in four sets in the opening singles in Coquimbo and then said he had struggled for concentration.

"When (the crowd) shouted 'Do it for the people down south', I had trouble concentrating. If I'd lost today, I'm not sure if I would have been able to pick myself up," said Massu, who came through 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Fernando Gonzalez, 5-1 down in the first set, also recovered from a set down to win in four seats against Harel Levy 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

In Belgrade Serbia's Novak Djokovic, the world number two, can clinch victory when he plays American John Isner later on Sunday, while Argentina and Sweden face a fifth rubber showdown to decide their tie after being deadlocked at 2-2 in Stockholm.

(Published 07 March 2010, 15:58 IST)

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