| Australians Todd Woodbridge (left) and Wayne Arthurs celebrate their win over Alex Corretja and Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the Davis Cup final doubles in Melbourne on Saturday. (AFP)
Melbourne, Nov. 29 (Reuters): Australia seized control of the Davis Cup final against Spain on Saturday with a crushing victory in the doubles rubber.
Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge gave a near-perfect demonstration to beat Alex Corretja and Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 and provide Australia with a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday’s concluding reverse singles.
The result left Australia tantalisingly close to claiming the Davis Cup for the 28th time. There have been only six occasions since the Davis Cup was first contested in 1900 that a team has lost after leading 2-1.
“It’s a great position to be in but there is still a mood of reservation, there is definitely no celebration in our locker room tonight,” Australia’s non-playing captain John Fitzgerald said.
The Spanish, who won the Davis Cup for the first time two years ago by beating Australia on Barcelona red clay, have not given up hope of winning yet but know they face a difficult task.
“We always felt from the start that today was going to be the hardest day for us and that was proven,” Spanish captain Jordi Arrese said.
Spain defied their poor record on grass to split Friday’s opening singles but still look to have their work cut out to win both matches on Sunday.
French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero needs to beat Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis in the first rubber of the day to keep the tie alive.
If he does, the title will come down to the final match between Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt, last year’s Wimbledon champion. Fitzgerald said he expected Philippoussis to bounce back from his loss to Moya when he confronts Ferrero.
“You’ll see a different player out there on Sunday,” Fitzgerald said. “I promise you, this guy tries his heart out every time he goes onto the court.”
Woodbridge and Arthurs were never seriously challenged by their Spanish opponents as they cruised to victory in about an hour and a half.
The Australian pair hardly raised a sweat on a hot and a sunny day at Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena with a dazzling display of shots and doubles play.