News24

Nadal rediscovers passion

2011-11-30 17:31

Seville - Four days of practise on clay has helped Rafael Nadal rediscover any of the passion he might have lost last week in London.

And the Spanish team leader is well prepared to play a pivotal role in the Davis Cup final against Argentina from Friday onwards.

Nadal, who lost two of three group matches at the World Tour Finals which ended the ATP season, came home tired but still motivated to help his country to a potential fifth Davis Cup title in little more than a decade.

The tie with Argentina will be a re-run of the 2008 final in which Spain travelled to South America and returned with the trophy. A year later, they repeated the feat with a win over the Czech Republic.

Links between the two Latin countries go deep in tennis, with Nadal close to Argentine Juan Monaco.

"He's one of my best friends, without any doubt," the six-time Roland Garros winner, who missed the 2008 victory due to injury, told dpa. "I'm closer to him than many of the Spaniards.

"And I've always gotten on great with (Argentine David) Nalbandian. We have lived together for many years at the (tennis) courts, speaking the same language, spending a lot of time together in our rooms, going out for dinner.

"Argentina "is one of the countries to which I would least mind losing, because I regard those we are facing as friends," said Nadal.

"It will be a very nice finals match, not only because we are playing against an important country like Argentina, but also against friends."

Nadal will headline the Spanish attack in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

"It's a pleasure playing in front of the Spanish people," said Nadal. "It's always a very special feeling.

"We all want to play our best and win," said Nadal, 20-5 in his Davis career and 16-2 on clay,

The clay surface will be a strong motivator for the hosts, who boast a formidable record at home, winning their last 20 ties in Spain. The last team to defeat the Spanish at home were Brazil in the 1999 first round.

It marked the last time that Spain lost a Davis Cup tie on clay, winning 22 straight in the interim. Nadal, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez are hoping to keep that nun alive in front of 22 000 people at the Olympic stadium.

"Perhaps we are the favourites, but we have to show it on the court," said Spanish captain Albert Costa. "They are a very strong team and they play very good in Davis Cup, so it's going to be tough for sure."

Argentina admit they go into the weekend as underdogs. But their side are all fresh as opposed to Nadal and Ferrer, who played last week in London.

In addition to Nalbandian and Monaco, Argentina will be led by Juan Del Potro with Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank in the running for final selection by captain Tito Vazquez.

As Spain seek a third title in four years, the Argentinians are looking for a first title after finishing runner-up in 1981, 2006 and 2008.

"There's always pressure, especially in a final. But they are favoured over us and have more pressure," said Nalbandian. "It is a very complicated series, one where we can win or lose all the points. We have to be well-prepared."

Vazquez called Nadal "a fortress on clay, and so is Ferrer."

The draw will be made Thursday with singles set for Friday, doubles on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday.

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