Valencia | Nadal sets another record
Rafa Nadal is back in action following weeks of doubt as to whether he would play in the Davis Cup tie against Germany in Valencia.
The World number one has not played since he retired with a leg injury from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic last January but on the opening day of the Davis Cup quarter-finals, he was merciless as he downed Philip Kohlschreiber to draw five-time winners Spain level at 1-1 in the tie.
It's a great feeling to be back, coming back from injuries is always difficult, but it's great to be in front of my crowd on a very memorable day. I'm very happy with the match. Rafa Nadal
And with his 6-2 6-2 6-3 win he set a new record of consecutive victories in the competition as he hasn’t lost in either singles or doubles in his last 23 matches.
Nadal was swiftly back in the swing of things in Valencia after Alexander Zverev blew away David Ferrer 6-4 6-2 6-2 to put Germany in front.
The 31-year-old hardly put a foot wrong on his return, prroducing 14 of his 30 winners in the opening set of a one-sided contest.
“It’s positive of course, winning in straight sets, it was a solid match. I feel comfortable back on the clay,” Nadal said later. “It’s a great feeling to be back, coming back from injuries is always difficult, but it’s great to be in front of my crowd on a very memorable day. I’m very happy with the match.”
The defending champions France found themselves involved in a tricky tie with Italy despite Lucas Pouille putting them ahead 6-3 6-2 4-6 3-6 6-1 in the opening rubber against Andreas Seppi before home favourite Fabio Fognini redressed the balance after three-hours and 31-minutes with a 6-7(6) 6-2 6-2 6-3 defeat of Jeremy Chardy.
Croatia’s Marin Cilic breezed past Dmitry Popko 6-2 6-1 6-2 to give the hosts the lead against Kazakhstan but the visitors hit back after Mikhail Kukushkin overpowered Borna Coric 3-6 7-6(5) 6-4 6-2.
With all three ties being played in Europe standing at 1-1, the USA are favourites to become the first nation to make the semi-finals for the first time since 2012 as their big serving pair of John Isner and Sam Querrey won their opening rubbers in Nashville to put the 2-0 up against Belgium.
First, Isner beat Joris De Loore, ranked 319, 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(8) 6-4 after three-hours and 14-minutes, and Querrey followed with a straight sets victory, beating Ruben Bemelmans 6-1 7-6(5) 7-5.
“We also know the job isn’t done,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “We also have to close it out, and the sooner the better. We’d certainly like to do that (on Saturday).”
Isner, who moved up to ninth in the world after winning the Miami Open last weekend, said: “It’s big absolutely. The first match is critical. We’re in a battle to three points. We have the advantage right now. So I’m very happy I was able to do my part, so to say, to put our team up.”