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Nadal brings Spain level

September 24, 2005 13:27 IST

Spain's world number two Rafael Nadal beat Italy's Daniele Bracciali in straight sets to bring them level at 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group playoff on Friday.

Nadal swept aside Bracciali 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to ensure the Spaniards go into Saturday's doubles on equal terms after Juan Carlos Ferrero suffered a surprise defeat to Andreas Seppi.

The 19-year-old Nadal, who has won 10 singles titles this season, had little trouble dealing with Bracciali, ranked 92nd and a late replacement for Potito Starace who was out with flu.

"I was nervous at the beginning but then I started hitting the ball harder and was able to take charge of the game. I had the feeling Bracciali was playing right to his limits," said Nadal.

Spain, Davis Cup winners last season, were forced into the playoffs after losing to Slovakia in the first round.

Nadal's easy win will have calmed nerves in the Spanish camp after they suffered an early shock with Seppi's spirited comeback to beat Ferrero 5-7, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2.

"It is vital that we win this tie and it doesn't matter if it is hard work and costs us a lot -- we have to win," said Spain captain Jordi Arrese.

Ferrero looked below his best despite taking the first two sets largely due to unforced errors from Seppi but the Spaniard was crushed in the third as the Italian kept the match alive.

Seppi, more than 58 places below 20th-ranked Ferrero, won the fourth set with an impressive performance and the Spaniard looked tired as the inspired Italian cruised through the final set to clinch the rubber.

For a passionate home crowd packed into the new stadium at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, Seppi provided a perfect start to Italy's attempt to return to the Davis Cup's top flight.


"I'm delighted. I played well in the third and fourth sets but I was really tired in the final set but managed to keep it together. This is a dream result," said Seppi who had treatment for cramp on several occasions.

"I felt cramp at the end of the second set and had a few attacks every now and then towards the end of the match. I was getting cramp all over, in my thighs and calves."

Seppi said the key to his recovery was a change in approach with more aggressive and positive play bringing results.

"I changed my tactics, pushing more and more, and was more aggressive in all senses and it paid off. I had some doubts at the start but then I decided to go for it whenever I had a chance and I did that," he said.

Ferrero agreed it was Seppi's switch to a more direct and risk-taking approach that turned around an absorbing rubber.

"I had things under control in the first two sets but from the third set he changed tactics and went on to the attack much more but I don't think I played badly," said the Spaniard.

"Even after the third set I was convinced I could win the tie because I knew he had some physical problems.

"At 2-0 up you don't expect your opponent to come back and win but you can never be overconfident in this competition because people fight right till the end. I think today he just played better than me," added Ferrero.


Simon Evans
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