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Davis Cup: Spain doubles victory secures World Group berth

Last updated on: September 15, 2013 19:01 IST

Davis Cup: Spain doubles victory secures World Group berth

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Spain secured their place in the Davis Cup's elite World Group when Rafael Nadal teamed up with Marc Lopez to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky and Denis Molchanov of Ukraine 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in their playoff on Saturday.

Victory for the Spanish pair on the red clay at the Magic Box arena gave them an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie following Friday's singles wins for Nadal and Fernando Verdasco.

Ukraine, whose highest-ranked player is number 40 Alexandr Dolgopolov, were clear underdogs against a team featuring world number two Nadal, who thrashed Stakhovsky on Friday four days after winning a second U.S. Open crown in New York.

Stakhovsky and Molchanov battled back impressively to take the second set on Saturday but the latter appeared to be suffering from a left thigh problem from the third set onwards and Nadal and Lopez took full advantage.

They grabbed the crucial break in the seventh game of the fourth set on the Molchanov serve and went on to clinch victory on their first matchpoint when a Stakhovsky service return drifted wide from Nadal's delivery.


Image: Spain's Rafael Nadal throws his wristband to the public after winning against Ukraine
Photographs: Sergio Perez/Reuters

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'We had the match under control'

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"We had the match under control but at the start of the second set I had a bit of a slump," Nadal said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Teledeporte.

"But we got the breaks in the third and fourth sets at the right moment and were able to finish the match off," added the 27-year-old.

"We are still in the World Group and I think that a country with so many players in the top 100 deserves it."

Nadal has shown little sign of fatigue on his return to Davis Cup action after beating top-ranked Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows to claim his 13th grand slam singles crown.

The Mallorcan, who had only two days to make the switch from hard court to clay, has not played in the competition since helping Spain to victory against Argentina in the 2011 final in Seville, their third triumph in four years and fifth overall.

Spain were in the playoffs after falling to Milos Raonic's Canada in the first round in Vancouver in February when Nadal, who had just returned from a seven-month injury layoff, did not feature.


Image: Spain's Rafael Nadal (top) celebrates with teammate Marc Lopez
Photographs: Sergio Perez/Reuters

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Nadal's incredible effort

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They last slipped out of the World Group when they lost away to Mexico in September 1995 before returning to the top tier a year later when a team featuring current captain Alex Corretja beat Denmark in Tarragona.

Corretja, a former World No 2, praised his team and particularly Nadal's "incredible effort" and said he was hoping to continue in the job for a third year in 2014.

"It's clear that I would be very excited to continue... but I am not the one to decide," he told Teledeporte.

"I think that given Spain's status in the tennis world and in sport in general it would not be right if we were not in the World Group and hopefully we will have a good year next year."

Verdasco and Tommy Robredo would likely line up in Sunday's dead singles rubbers, Corretja said.


Image: Spain's Rafael Nadal (right) is congratulated by team captain Alex Corretja
Photographs: Sergio Perez/Reuters

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Murray guides Britain back among Davis Cup elite

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World No 3 Andy Murray steered Britain back among the Davis Cup elite with a straight sets victory over Croatia's Ivan Dodig in Umag on Sunday.

Murray, who turned out for his country for the first time in two years, capped a fine weekend with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory to give Britain a 3-1 lead and put them in next week's draw for the World Group after a five-year absence.

The Wimbledon champion, who beat 16-year-old Borna Coric on Friday and then teamed up with Colin Fleming to win Saturday's doubles, was far too strong for a weary Dodig who hung on grimly at the end, saving two match points before succumbing.


Image: Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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'Looking forward to playing against some of the biggest countries'

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"I'm looking forward to playing against some of the biggest countries in the world it will be exciting and hopefully I can be part of it," Murray told Eurosport.

Spain, inspired by the return of Rafael Nadal, needed only two days to crush Ukraine 3-0 to retain their place in the World Group, having been required to face a playoff after losing in the first round to Canada.

Switzerland and the Netherlands beat Ecuador and Austria respectively in their playoffs.


Image: Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates winning against Ivan Dodig of Croatia
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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