Ferrer leads Spain into Davis Cup semis
David Ferrer secured defending champion Spain a place in the Davis Cup semifinals by beating Austria's Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in Sunday's reverse singles.
Despite his unsteady serve and gusting winds, the fifth-ranked Ferrer secured an insurmountable 3-1 series lead to line up a contest with the United States in September's semifinals. Nicolas Almagro later beat Alexander Peya to complete a 4-1 victory for the Spanish, while the Americans finished up 3-2 winners over France on Sunday.
The scrappy Ferrer broke Melzer in the last game of an evenly contested first set and didn't let up to maintain his perfect record in 14 matches on home clay and claim Spain's 23rd straight home win. It moved the five-time champions into second place all time for consecutive home wins behind Italy's record of 28.
Spain captain Alex Corretja said he was happy to face the Americans.
''It's great news since we will play at home in front of our fans,'' Corretja said. ''We now have four or five months for our guys to get prepared.''
Spain's No. 2 Almagro beat Peya 7-5, 7-5 in a meaningless final rubber to close the series.
Ferrer, who was on all three of Spain's title-winning teams in the past four years, had originally said he would sit out this season along with Spain's top-ranked player Rafael Nadal.
But the 30-year-old returned to the team for the quarterfinals and did not drop a set in two commanding singles wins to lead Spain to its first win over Austria in 33 years.
''It was a tough match, with a lot of wind,'' Ferrer said. ''But I knew it was going to be a hard one and I am happy I could finish it off in three sets and not have to go to a fourth.''
Ferrer struggled with his serve at the start, hitting a pair of double faults in his first service game. But the local favorite managed to save two break points to hold on and not slip behind early on the Marina d'Or red clay court.
The 21st-ranked Melzer appeared to have the upper hand as his ground strokes kept Ferrer on the defensive, while the Spaniard failed to get in more than 50 percent of his first serves.
But Melzer also got into trouble with his serve, and opened the final game of the first set with a costly fourth double fault. Ferrer then hit an unreachable crossing shot, and Melzer followed by hitting a volley wide to yield the first set.
Ferrer kept the pressure on as he clipped the baseline with a return to go up 40-0 in Melzer's first service game of the second set. And Melzer again sent the ball out to go down 2-0.
''I believe the match was more evenly contested that what the score shows,'' Melzer said. ''I played consistently throughout and had options to win the first set. After that, Ferrer improved and I couldn't turn it around.''
Austria's former French Open semifinalist appeared to get back into the match when he capitalized on another dip in Ferrer's serve to pull back a break. But Ferrer forced Melzer into a weak return and smashed home the winner to break right back and go ahead 5-3 on his way to winning the second set.
Ferrer took control of the decisive set when Melzer netted a drop shot - one of his 58 unforced errors in the match - to lose his serve and fall behind for good at 4-3.