PERU CELEBRATE SUCCESS
By Mark Staniforth, PA Sport
Luis Horna was keen to talk about the inspiration of history after completing a singles victory over Max Mirnyi which led Peru into the Davis Cup World Group for the first time last week.
The current world number 85 became a national icon for his performances against Belarus at the Rinconada Country Club in Lima, which earned Peru a glamorous February home tie against Spain.
It was a remarkable achievement for a country which had languished in Americas Zone Group II as recently as 1997, and showed little capability of reaching such an advanced stage of the competition.
Horna said he was inspired by watching a video of Peru's previous finest moment in the competition, when current captain Jaime Yzaga was involved in a tight play-off defeat to Australia in 1989.
Yzaga fashioned an epic 9-7 win over Jason Stoltenberg in that tie and Horna said: "I asked Jaime to give me the CD because I wanted to see it again and get ready for the moment.
"We watched the match together and I think that was a very important thing that we did in order for me to get ready for today. When the moment came I was ready to suffer like I should and come up with the right shots."
Horna's team-mate Ivan Miranda, ranked a lowly 230, had set the course for an unlikely victory over the 2004 semi-finalists with an astonishing four-set win over Mirnyi in the opening rubber.
Horna's win over former Wimbledon semi-finalist Vladimir Voltchkov then took Peru to the brink of victory, and after defeat in Saturday's doubles he duly wrapped it up in Sunday's opening reverse singles.
Victory prompted the nation's president Alan Garcia to present the players with a £10,000 bonus and silver plates to commemorate their momentous achievement.
Garcia told team members: "Our nation feels itself represented by its sportsmen's victories. Thank you for giving Peru so much joy and for your commitment, perseverance and the efforts shown."
However, if the seemingly impossible were to happen and Horna extended his nation's odyssey all the way to the end of the competition, he would not be the first Peruvian to get his hands on the Davis Cup.
Arequipa-born Alex Olmedo lifted the trophy in 1958, albeit as a member of the United States team, having left the nation of his birth to undertake a business degree at the University of Southern California.
Olmedo had little alternative. Peru did not participate in Davis Cup for the first time until 1968. In 1959, Olmedo won both Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, and was runner-up at the US Open.
Perhaps Olmedo will be the next source of inspiration for Horna as he prepares for the much more daunting task of entertaining the likes of Rafael Nadal back in Lima early next year.