Nadal puts Spain ahead

Nadal puts Spain ahead

Former world number one brushes aside Tomas Berdych in opener

Nadal puts Spain ahead

 Spain’s Rafael Nadal serves to Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the Davis Cup final in Barcelona on Friday. AFPNadal, who failed to win a set in three defeats at the ATP World Tour Finals last week, clearly relished a return to his favourite clay surface as he overwhelmed Berdych in the sort of style that brought him four French Open titles.

Nadal was two points from losing the first set but edged it and then hit top form to win in two hours 28 minutes.

Berdych had his chances in the first set of the opening singles rubber but could not capitalise from 5-4, 0-30, and Nadal eventually found his feet on the slow clay.  The six-time Grand Slam champion stormed through 13 games in a row as he took charge to the delight of the packed crowd at the Palau Sant Jordi, who cheered him all the way.

David Ferrer faced Czech Radek Stepanek in the day's second rubber, with the doubles to come on Saturday and the reverse singles on Sunday.

Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez are scheduled to take on Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Halek in the doubles, although team captains Albert Costa and Jaroslav Navratil can alter their line-ups up to one hour prior to the match.

Spain are the defending champions and three-times winners. The Czechs won the competition for the only time, as Czechoslovakia, in 1980.