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Spain look for revenge in Davis Cup

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Originally published on: 16/09/11 10:31

Four-time champions Spain will aim to avenge their 2010 quarter-final defeat to France in the Davis Cup when the two nations meet on Friday.

France finished runner up to Serbia last year in the tennis world’s premier team competition and whitewashed the Spaniards 5-0 when they met in the last eight, but Guy Forget’s boys in blue face the ultimate test as they attempt to reach back-to-back finals for the first time since 2002.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Michael Llodra will battle against Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez in a star-studded showdown at the Plaza de Toros de los Califas in Cordoba, Spain, with Gasquet facing the daunting task of kicking off proceedings against Nadal.

“It’s a very tough match. He’s the best player on clay. It’s at home, there’s a lot of crowd for him,” said Gasquet. “I will try and play him the best I can. For sure it’s tough for me, tough for the French team – they are the favourites.”

As for Nadal, bar four hours on the practice courts ahead of his opening clash, the world No.2 hadn’t played a match on clay since winning his sixth French Open title in June and believes that returning to compete on the red stuff will be anything but plain sailing.

“It’s a challenge for me. I like to play on clay, but I need to adapt,” said the Mallorcan. “That’s something that everybody needs. Even if everybody thinks it’s easier for me to adapt my game to clay – no – I need to run better. I didn’t practise a lot – I spent four hours on court, that’s not much before a very tough match. It will be a very big challenge.”

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, fresh from winning his third Grand Slam of the season at the US Open, leads Serbia into battle with Argentina at the Belgrade Arena, the scene of their maiden Davis Cup triumph last December.

The world No.1 opens up against David Nalbandian today, assuming he’s recovered from winning his first US Open title – and the fourth Grand Slam of his career – in New York.

“There’s no secret that I’m exhausted, physically and mentally,” said Djokovic. “But it’s been an incredible season. I’m thrilled and I’m happy to be able to celebrate this title with my family and my people and to play again in front of Serbians.”

Spain v France
Friday: 12:00 hrs local (10:00 hrs GMT)
Saturday: 15:00 hrs local (13:00 hrs GMT)
Sunday: 12:00 hrs local (10:00 hrs GMT)

Serbia v Argentina
Friday: 15:00 hrs (13:00 hrs GMT)
Saturday: 15:00 hrs (13:00 hrs GMT)
Sunday: 14:00 hrs (12:00 hrs GMT)

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