Nadal class puts Spain in control
Rafael Nadal returned to the comfort of clay after struggling in the ATP World Tour finals last week and his best play followed, as he gave Spain a 1-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final by dispatching Juan Monaco 6-1 6-1 6-2 yesterday.
Nadal broke Monaco seven times at the Olympic Stadium in Seville and four-time champions Spain took command of the final when David Ferrer defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-2 6-7 (7/2) 3-6 6-4 6-3 in the second singles rubber.
"The best part of my game was that I didn't make mistakes," Nadal said. "I was a little nervous at the start but after I broke him I started playing well."
Spain have not lost on clay for 22 ties -- including a record 20 straight on home soil dating back to 1999 -- as they bid for a third title in four years. Argentina are vying for their first Davis Cup trophy in their fourth final.
BEIJING Olympian Melanie Nocher finished over a second outside the 200m backstroke qualification mark for London 2012 at the Dutch Open championships yesterday.
Nocher finished third in the final in a time of 2:12.02, behind Spain's Duane da Roche Marce (2:10.47) and Sharon van Rouwendaal of Holland (2:10.52). Both were inside the qualification time of 2:10.84.
Grainne Murphy posted a solid time of 2:15.82 to finish fifth in the final of the 200m individual medley. Gold went to Britain's Hannah Miley in 2:12.18.
The other Irish finalist last night was European junior champion Sycerika McMahon, who finished sixth in the 100m breaststroke, having qualified fifth fastest with a national junior record of 1:09.80. The teenager lowered her Irish junior mark to 1:09.24 in the final, which left her 0.75 seconds away from the Olympic qualification time.
At the US Winter National Championships in Atlanta, Andrew Bree warmed up for his bid to dip inside the 200m breaststroke time for London with a disappointing display in the 100m breaststroke, finishing in 1:03.68. In the women's 100m breaststroke, Fiona Doyle was 26th overall when she touched in 1:11.47.
DETAILS IN FACTFILE
TWO bouts were decided by one point margins at the first session of the weekend's National Intermediate Championships semi-finals at the National Stadium in Dublin last night.
Dubliners George Bates and Jamie Conroy advanced with 16-15 and 14-13 wins over Ryan Peake and Belfast's Anthony Upton in the featherweight and lightweight classes.
Jamie Higgins got last night's last-four duels underway with a narrow 12-10 verdict over Scott Hanway of the St Saviours OBA club.
Smithboro BC bantamweight Gary McKenna also progressed, an impressive 18-9 decision over Paul McGrath booking his ticket into the 54Kg final.