Nadal helps Spain take 2-0 Davis Cup lead

Madrid, Sep 14 (IANS) Rafael Nadal showed once again that fatigue and jetlag don't exist for him, as he helped Spain take a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup tie against Ukraine Friday in the Caja Magica here.

In the run up to the match that Spain needed to win to remain in the World Group, Nadal had spoken of his tiredness after winning the last three competitions he had played in, the last being Monday's triumph at the US Open, reports Xinhua.

He had not returned to Spain until Wednesday and had admitted tiredness. He also said he was willing to play singles if captain Alex Corretja asked him to.

Unwilling to leave his top player on the sidelines is exactly what Corretja did. He was rewarded by a thundering display from Nadal, who looked to be very much a man in a hurry as he won the first two sets of his rubber against Sergiy Stakhovski 6-0, 6-0 in just 56 minutes Friday.

It was not until the first game of the third set that Stakhovski won a game and the Ukrainian showed his sense of humour by celebrating as if he had won the match.

That saw a slight recovery from Stakhovski and it was not until the ninth game that Nadal was able to get the decisive service break to move 5-4 ahead and then serve out to claim the rubber 6-0, 6-0, 6-4.

Nadal has now won his last 21 singles matches.

The day had threatened to get off to a bad start for Spain as local boy Fernando Verdasco lost the opening set of the first rubber against Aleksandr Dolgopolov.

Dolgopolov won the opening set 6-3 before Verdasco fought back to a four-set victory 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in a match which won't be remembered for the brilliant play of either of the players, who committed a total of 103 unforced errors between them.

Verdasco had been a surprise choice to play in singles ahead of Tommy Robredo, who has been in good form off late but he was able to show the virtue of committing just 38 unforced errors to his rival's 65 which was enough to put Spain ahead.

Saturday sees the doubles tie and should the pair of Robredo and Marc Lopez win, Spain will have assured their Davis Cup place for next year.

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