Big guns absent for Davis Cup quarters

However, with France also lacking their number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Spain will still be favourites in Clermont Ferrand.  "It's always a setback (to be without Nadal) but the players going are very good," said Spain captain Albert Costa who will rely on world No 10 Fernando Verdasco, No 12 David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Feliciano Lopez.

French captain Guy Forget, who is also without Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu, pins much of his hopes on world number 17 Gael Monfils.

A slew of injuries and absentees have hit all four quarterfinals which start on Friday with Croatia facing Serbia, Chile playing Czech Republic and Russia hosting Argentina. Serbia's Novak Djokovic will answer his call of duty though.

The new world number two had his Wimbledon hopes crushed by Tomas Berdych in the semifinals last week but hopes victory in Split will act as the perfect tonic.

Croatia will rely on Marin Cilic and the 31-year-old Ivan Ljubicic, mainstay of their 2005 triumph, against the Serbs but Mario Ancic and Ivo Karlovic are missing.

The Czechs, runners-up to Spain last year, will be without Berdych against Chile in what should be a red-hot atmosphere at the Enjoy Tennis Centre in Coquimbo.

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