GIJON, Spain — Even without facing Rafael Nadal, the United States is on the brink of elimination by the clay-court masters from Spain.
Sam Querrey and former Georgia player John Isner lost their opening singles matches Friday, giving the defending champions a 2-0 lead in the Davis Cup semifinals.
David Ferrer put the hosts ahead in the best-of-five series with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Querrey. Nicolas Almagro beat Isner 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to leave Spain one point from its fourth final in five years.
Almagro overcame 25 aces from Isner, who saved three match points before hitting a forehand long.
The U.S. must win the doubles match today to stay in the series, with brothers Mike and Bob Bryan facing Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
The Bryan twins are 4-0 when the U.S. has faced a 2-0 deficit, and 5-0 against Spain.
Reverse singles are Sunday. Spain is playing without injured Rafael Nadal, and the U.S. is without Andy Roddick, who retired after the U.S. Open.
The United States has only rallied back to win from a 0-2 deficit once in 38 series – in 1934 against Australia. Since the start of World Group play, Spain is 37-0 after winning both opening singles.
The winner plays either Argentina or the Czech Republic in the final in November.
The 10th-ranked Isner had a 4-0 Davis Cup record this season, including wins over Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
ARGENTINA 1, CZECH REPUBLIC 1
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Argentina’s injured and emotional Juan Martin del Potro beat Radek Stepanek in the opening match, and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych evened the Davis Cup semifinal by topping Juan Monaco in the second match.
Del Potro, told by doctors not to play because of an inflamed left wrist, beat Stepanek 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Berdych later rallied to edge Monaco 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, leveling the contest before the doubles today and reverse singles Sunday.