Murcia: Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer gave champions Spain a 2-0 lead over Israel with crushing victories in their Davis Cup semi-final on Friday.
Roared on by boisterous home support, former world number one Ferrero thumped Dudi Sela 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 after Ferrer had thrashed Harel Levy 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Israel, in the semis for the first time, must now win Saturday’s doubles and the two reverse singles on Sunday to upset the top-ranked Spanish on their favoured clay surface.
The 29-year-old Ferrero has been in fine form this year, climbing back up the rankings to 21, and was rarely troubled by number 29 Sela in sunny and breezy conditions at the 12,000-seater arena.
The former French Open champion pressed home his advantage against his tired-looking opponent in the third set and sealed victory on his first match point when Sela skewed a forehand wide.
“It looked like he started to feel the pace in the middle of the second set and I was able to close out the match despite the heat,” Ferrero told a news conference.
“We have a team that can perform well on any surface but of course we feel more at home on clay.”
Sela said he had only played two tournaments this year on the red dust and had found it hard to adjust.
“It’s a different kind of movement and takes more physical strength,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll win the doubles and the tie will still be alive on Sunday.”
Levy is ranked more than a hundred places below Ferrer and, although he showed some fight in the second set to grab two breaks of serve, the Spaniard won easily.
“It certainly wasn’t as comfortable a win as it might have looked,” Ferrer said. “The court was very slow and it was hard to finish off the points.”
Ferrero and Ferrer, who was born just up the coast in Javea, were cheered on by injured top-10 pair Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, who watched from the stands.
Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez will take on doubles specialists Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram on Saturday. The winners of the tie will play Croatia or Czech Republic in the final in December.
Spain would have the advantage of playing the Czechs at home but would have to play away if the Croats progressed.
First Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009, 10:06