Nadal-Lopez clinch Davis Cup Group play-off

Nadal-Lopez clinch Davis Cup Group play-off

Tennis star Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez clinched the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie for Spain with a hard-fought doubles win over India on Saturday.

New Delhi: Tennis star Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez clinched the Davis Cup World Group play-off tie for Spain with a hard-fought doubles win over India on Saturday.

Nadal and Lopez, who won the doubles gold at the recent Rio Olympics, helped Spain take an unassailable 3-0 lead to enter the elite group after a two-year gap.

World number four Nadal shrugged off early rustiness as the Spanish pair served past the Indian duo of Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 23 minutes.

Nadal missed the opening singles match on Friday following a reported stomach ache as Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer put Spain in firm control of the tie with their respective wins.

But the 14-time Grand Slam winner made his presence felt in the doubles encounter at Delhi's RK Khanna Tennis Stadium.

"We are happy to be back in the world group and that's the most important thing. That's where we think we need to be, with a lot of our players in the top hundred," Nadal told reporters.

"That was our goal and we did it. The team here and all the players who are not here have made their contributions and everybody is happy."

Nadal's early struggle with his game saw the visitors lose the first set after being broken twice by an inspired home pair who had the raucous crowd behind them.

The Spanish duo were also run in close in the second set but a crucial break in the 10th game proved to be the turning point for the visitors.

The tie-break win was enough to get the best out of Nadal, who showed flashes of his brilliance to entertain the capacity crowd.

India's Paes and Myneni fought valiantly against their opponents, never allowing the Spanish pair to breathe easy in the marathon battle.

The 43-year-old Paes with his neat serve and volley showed why he is known to be a dangerous doubles player.

"He played a great match. It was a pleasure to play him in his country. One of the biggest stars of doubles and one of the best players in the history of doubles," said Nadal.

Paes returned the compliments by praising Nadal and the Spanish team.

"We were playing the Olympic gold medallists. They were a tough world class team. Marc and Rafa are great players. Rafa is a legend," Paes said of his opponents.

The left-handed Nadal, who was guilty of committing a lot of unforced errors in the first two sets, attacked the net with great success as Spain dominated the final two sets.

Marc Lopez, who is placed 15th in the doubles ranking, complimented Nadal's attacking style with his good baseline play.

Spain, who bowed out of the World Group after a first-round loss against Germany in 2014, now head into the elite round of matches. The 'dead' reverse singles will be played on Sunday.

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