I opened my trusty copy of Independence in Latin America: A Comparative Approach by Richard Graham and re-learned a fact about Argentina. Argentina fought two wars of independence against Spain. These wars revolved around Argentina’s relationship to the deposed and later restored King Ferdinand VII of Spain. Interesting reading. For Juan Martin del Potro, David Nalbandian and company to win against Spain on the road, they will need to depose King Rafa I.
Siglo de Oro of the Spanish Armada?
In all fairness, Spain’s rise in men’s tennis began in the 1990’s, but no country in the first two decades of this new century has placed as many players inside of the top 20 as Spain has. Spain is also dominating Davis Cup as of late. It is early, but Spain is the tennis nation of the new century to this point. Argentina has also placed a lot of players into the top 20 as of late. David Nalbandian was runner-up at the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, Gaston Gaudio won the 2004 French Open, Guillermo Coria was the rightful successor to the King of Clay title held by Juan Carlos Ferrero prior to Rafal Nadal’s rise. Also, Juan Martin del Potro won the 2009 US Open (a year that featured a 3-0 head-to-head record with King Rafa).
Argentina – Look to France 1991
If any country can challenge Spain in Spain, it might be Argentina. Neither nation has a great doubles team. Winning the doubles point is a must for Argentina, but not for Spain. Nalbandian can return serve and change the direction of the ball during a rally in a manner that frustrates even Rafa when Nalbandian is on his game. Nalbandian will need to channel his inner Henri Leconte who was considered over the hill and out of shape by 1991. Leconte drubbed a young Pete Sampras on an indoor court to win a point for France. Leconte also teamed with Guy Forget to win the doubles point for France. When Forget beat Sampras on the final day, France won the Davis Cup 3-1 versus a US team featuring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Nalbandian might pull a rabbit out of his hat, and hep Argentina win the Davis Cup.
Home Turf is the Difference
The two biggest differences between Argentina in 2011 and France in 1991 is that France had players in Forget and Leconte who could play doubles naturally and France had a rabid home crowd. Beating a not yet dominant Pete Sampras twice on a fast indoor court might not have seemed likely, but thousands of wild fans made it plausible. Beating Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer 3 times in singles on clay is not going to happen. Argentina is focused and will need the doubles point while dominating Ferrer, but I think Spain wins either 3-1 or 3-2. The Siglo de Oro continues for Spain. Either way Vamanos!