Davis Cup - Argentina proud despite defeat
Argentina's captain and players were resigned but proud despite coming up short in a Davis Cup final against Spain for the second time in four years.
World number two Rafa Nadal was given a scare on his beloved clay by Juan Martin Del Potro when the Argentine took the first set in Sunday's singles but rallied to secure an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie and seal Spain's fifth triumph in the competition.
Appearing in their fourth final after losing the title match to the Spanish in Mar del Plata in 2008, Argentina were left cursing missed opportunities but acknowledged they had been defeated by one of the greatest ever teams.
"Spain, playing on clay, as the home team, this is one of the best in history," captain Tito Vazquez said at a news conference.
"But we prepared thoroughly and I'm very proud of the team for the effort that they have made," he added.
"This is what happens in sports. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. It was our turn to lose this time but we were very close."
Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, was facing a man who has lost only one best-of-five match on clay in his career on Sunday but appeared on course for a huge upset when he bludgeoned Nadal into submission in the opening set.
The lanky 23-year-old could not maintain the intensity, however, and faded badly in the fourth-set tiebreak to lose 1-6 6-4 6-1 7-6.
Argentina were 2-0 down after Friday's singles, when Nadal demolished Juan Monaco and David Ferrer edged Del Potro, before David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank thrashed Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in Saturday's doubles to keep the tie alive.
"I think both my colleagues and I must be happy that we have done a good job, not only in this tie but the whole Davis Cup," Del Potro said.
"We could fight Spain on home turf and we could feel that we could beat them.
"But beyond the defeat, I am particularly happy because of what the team gave me and what my colleagues gave me and their support so that I could play better."
Nalbandian added: "We must be happy and proud with what we did, each of us -- the players, the technical team, everybody.
"We knew what Spain was, and it has been proven that Spain as a local team is really difficult to beat," he added.
"Sometimes things don't come out okay, but we are proud and happy with our work here to try and win.
"Sometimes, unfortunately, the opponent is better and that's the way it is."