It went down to the doubles and it was up to Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs to seal a 3-2 victory for Australia and gain a chance of reaching the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group.
The duo scored a 64 62 victory over Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez in exactly one hour. The match ended when Llagostera Vives served a double fault, just as she did to lose the first set.
“It’s tremendous,” Australian captain David Taylor said. “I’m really proud to be their captain. For Sam, what a weekend it’s been to come back and win three rubbers like that after being so close to losing to someone she’d lost to before. I just can’t say enough praise for the team.”
Conditions were way warmer than on Saturday and with that the ball moved faster, helping the Australians.
Stosur gives Aussies lead
Stosur was able to give the home side a 2-1 lead in the first of the reverse singles when she defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues 61 63. It was her second win from three matches against the Spaniard.
“I’m very pleased with the way I was able to come in and start a lot better than I did yesterday,” Stosur said. “It kind of suits me when it is hotter and the ball’s a bit more lively, so I definitely used the conditions to my advantage.
“I thought I served well. I didn’t want to let her look at too many second serves. But even on my second serve she was moving back so I was able to dominate the points. If I can play like that every day then I’m pretty happy.”
Stosur faced a break point in the first game but that was the only time she was put under any sort of pressure. She broke serve in the second game and in fact had points for a 4-0 lead. That fourth game was the only one the Spaniard won in the first set as Stosur served back-to-back aces to win the set.
In the fifth game of the second set, Medina Garrigues sent a forehand long when facing a break point and once again Stosur stepped on the gas pedal, breaking serve to love for the match when her opponent netted a forehand.
Suarez Navarro pulls Spain level
The second reverse singles saw the players from both sides changed. Alicia Molik replaced Casey Dellacqua and Carla Suarez Navarro moved in for Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez.
This was the first time Molik had played at her home court since 2001 and she felt pretty good going into the rubber having contested a very close match with the Spaniard in Hobart last month.
However, the match turned into one-way traffic for Suarez Navarro who levelled the series at 2-2, winning 61 61 in just 68 minutes.
“She outclassed me and she was by far the supreme player; she was a few levels above me,” Molik said. “I sort of tried to be aggressive but it wasn’t a controlled aggression. I knew I wouldn’t get too many opportunities but every time I got a short ball I got too eager.
“I’ve been around long enough to know I’ll get opportunities but if you don’t find your racket early, it’s hard to find it at 61 3-0. It’s disappointing; would love to have won it for the team but that’s the way it goes.”
Suarez said the big difference was the way Molik served.
“I’m happy I play good. The score look easy but it was not easy game,” Suarez said. “I go up in the game from the other match we play and I play regular game. I feel good in the match but in any match if you do not finish last point, the match is not finish, so I was thinking about every point, to the last point.”
Aussie pair dominates
In the doubles, everything stayed on serve for the first nine games, but with Llagostera Vives serving the Aussies broke to close the set in 35 minutes.
The second set was even more convincing for the home team as they opened up a 4-1 lead and then broke to love in the eighth game as Llagostera served to try and keep Spain’s hopes alive.
“We lost but the team spirit was high,” Spanish captain Miguel Margets Lobato said. “I cannot ask for nothing else from my players. They gave all they had inside. This is tennis and we must accept it.”