World Group the target: Nadal

World Group the target: Nadal

Tennis Davis Cup: Spanish team arrives in full force for the play-off contest

World Group the target: Nadal

The anticipated arrival of Spain’s Davis Cup team had stiffened the security measures at the RK Khanna stadium on Monday. The retinue of the visitors was slow to trickle in, even as the likes of Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer walked in unassumingly, before providing a glimpse of their prowess in an intense session.

Nadal appeared relaxed and casually chatted up with his team members before getting down to business in all earnest. The fatigue of their long travel — they had arrived only this morning — was not reflected in the way they went about hitting the ball with brute power.

Spain are desperate to return to the World Group after dropping out of it in the past two seasons with captain Conchita Martinez announcing their best team for the tie.

Under floodlights, Nadal and Ferrer, ranked Word No 13, hit till their sweat-soaked clothes clung to the bodies, relentlessly trading searing groundstrokes, backhand slices and volleys, over an hour and a half. The rallies went for long, the two relishing in beating the ball to pulp, with Conchita, standing at the backcourt, occasionally chipping in with suggestions.

The five-time champions have arrived here with an extended entourage, which quite measured up to their exalted status in world tennis. The 20-member Spanish team include a trainer for each of the four players, two physiotherapists, one doctor and Spanish federation chief.

The seriousness with which Spain has approached this contest against the lowly-ranked and depleted India, however, does strikes a bit odd. Nadal, whose commitment to playing in Davis Cup is considered to be exemplary, admitted they were looking forward to return to the World Group.

“I am representing my country and that’s always a special motivation. There is always confrontation when you are not playing at home, so difficult. India have a good team, it will be tough. They will be playing at home in front of home crowd in the conditions they chose,” said 14-time Grand Slam Champion and World No 4 Nadal after wrapping up his first training here on Monday.

“We have lot of good players in top-100, it’s tough for us not to be in World Group, so we are looking forward to coming back to the World Group, and that’s the chance to win here, it’s not going to be easy. We need to be ready and play our best.”

The 30-year-old acknowledged the humid conditions that could pose the challenge in the tie.

“The court is good, it’s very humid. First day we had a long trip. To be in India again is nice. I have been here lot of time in last couple of years. I feel good here, good people, good crowd.

“The court is not very slow, not very, very fast. It is a good court to play good tennis. “

Asked if Spain was relieved to play the tie under lights, Nadal was quick to spat the reply.

“Very necessary!,” he said before making his way to the dressing room through the small crowd that had gathered to watch the legend play.

India were joined by Leander Paes and Sumit Nagal for a late evening session.

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