Valencia - Rafael Nadal returns to competitive action in the
Davis Cup on Friday for the first time since retiring from the Australian Open
with a crippling hip injury in January.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner leads Spain into a home
quarter-final against Germany in Valencia aiming to extend his remarkable
22-match winning streak in singles.
After Thursday's draw the 31-year-old world number one will
play Germany's Philip Kohlschreiber in Friday's second singles with a clash
against world number four Alexander Zverev on Sunday.
Nadal is taking part in the Davis Cup for the first time
since 2016 and hitting his first ball in anger since hobbling out of the first
Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne in the fifth set of a quarter-final
against Marin Cilic.
He may be back at the top of the ATP rankings but Nadal is
far from fully recovered from the hip problem which forced him to sit out the
Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
He is using the Davis Cup to start his European campaign
which he hopes will lead to an 11th French Open in June.