Spanish Nicolas Almagro returns the ball to US John Isler, during their Davis Cup semifinal tennis match in Gijon, Spain, 14 Septembre 2012. EFE
Gijon, Spain, Sep 14 (EFE).- Nicolas Almagro scored a narrow 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory here Friday over big-serving John Isner to give Spain a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals, while Argentina and the Czech Republic are all even after their first two singles matches.
Almagro capped off a perfect day for Spain, whose No. 1 singles player, David Ferrer, shook off a rocky start to roll to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey on the slow clay of the Parque Hermanos Castro arena in this northwestern city.
Almagro capitalized on his chances against Isner's serve in the first and third sets, but in the fourth set Isner fought off six break points before snagging a critical break of serve in the eighth game to send the match to a fifth set.
In that decider, Almagro had three match points with Isner serving at 4-5. He committed a backhand error on the first one, while the American erased the other two with aces.
But Isner found himself in trouble on serve two games later after missing a routine forehand volley and ceded the match with a forehand over the baseline.
"It was very tough," Almagro said in his post-match comments.
"I knew everything about John Isner well. I think he served really good. I didn't feel very comfortable at the court when he was serving. But we are happy because it's Friday and we're 2-0 up."
The United States, which holds the record for most Davis Cup titles with 32, has only come back from a 2-0 deficit on one occasion - 78 years ago against Australia - but captain Jim Courier said anything is possible.
"I like our team and I'm very happy with the team we have here," Courier said. "Tomorrow isn't guaranteed, we have to come and win that (doubles), but John and Sam will be ready for (the reverse singles on) Sunday."
The American team of Mike and Bob Bryan are heavily favored against the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in Saturday's doubles.
In the other Davis Cup semifinal contest, host Argentina and the Czech Republic split their singles matches Friday on the clay court at Parque Roca in Buenos Aires.
Juan Martin del Potro, who has been battling a wrist injury, got the South American squad off to a strong start with a comfortable 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Radek Stepanek in the opening match.
Although the score line was routine, the win was an emotional one for the big Argentine.
"It wasn't easy to play at all. You see how I'm suffering (with the pain in my wrist) when playing, but I went out on court to show my appreciation for the affection and support that the Argentines have shown me," a teary-eyed Del Potro said.
"I played really well and took all my opportunities," the world No. 6 said. "To break his serve and play in the clay courts with these fans gets easier than you expect, but still it was a very difficult match for Argentina."
The Czech squad's No. 1 player then evened the contest with an 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Juan Monaco, a match filled with wild momentum swings.
Berdych won the first set handily but then dropped the next two due in large part to his unforced errors and then fell behind 4-1 in the fourth set.
The Czech then stormed back to win nine straight games to take a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead in the fifth set before faltering as he neared the finish line.
Monaco rallied and then got the match back on serve and sent the home crowd into a frenzy by breaking Berdych in the ninth game, but he then promptly lost his serve at love and the match was quickly over.
"I wasn't feeling that well in the middle part of the match. I think it was the transfer to here and playing on a different surface and actually it was quite tough," Berdych said afterward, referring to the transition after playing on hard courts at the U.S. Open, where he reached the semifinals.
"But, it was not tough enough for me and I was able to get (myself) out of that and made it," he added.
Saturday's doubles is scheduled to be a match-up of Argentina's Eduardo Schwank and Carlos Berlocq against the Czech team of Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol, but Berdych said after his singles match that Stepanek may be inserted into the doubles.