Less than four days after his 13th Grand Slam title win, Rafael Nadal (Profile) was back on Spanish soil playing the Davis Cup 2013 World Group playoffs for his country against Ukraine. The world no. 2 dominated Sergiy Stakhovsky (Profile) 60, 60, 64 to secure a 2-0 lead for his team. 33rd ranked Fernando Verdasco (Profile) won the opening rubber in four sets after dropping the first set to Alexandr Dolgopolov (Profile).
The first match had the making of an upset as Dolgopolov clutched the opening set 6-3 in front of a disgruntled Spanish crowd at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center. Verdasco regrouped quickly and although he went down a break in the third set, he quickly broke back at 5-4 to maintain his lead and took the remainder of the match in resounding fashion.
In the second match on the Manolo Santana show court, Spanish no. 1 Rafael Nadal showed top form in his annihilation of Sergiy Stakhovsky. Rafa hit 33 winners and won a total of 10 out of 13 net shots. and won the match 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 in 1 hour and 42 minutes to secure a comfortable lead for the Spanish team. The third set of the match was the only partially competitive one, as it featured a courageous attempt from Stakhovsky to hold serve until Nadal finally broke to lead 5-4 and serve out the match.
“It’s always a surprise winning 60 60 against a good player like Stakhovsky,” said Nadal. “I think I started well. I was a lucky with a few balls, that made the difference in the score. “In the end, the third set was close. It was tough, Sergiy started to play aggressive and there was a few tough moments in the third but I am happy with the way I finished the game. I made the break in the right moment.”
Rafa is also considering playing in the doubles to help Spain wrap up their World Group play-off against the Ukraine. If he choses to compete, it will be the first time he has played doubles in the Davis Cup since 2006 when he played with Fernando Verdasco.
“We spoke a couple of days ago and he [Nadal] felt that if he was feeling good after his singles, he said that he would be able to play and we feel that Marc and Rafa are the best pair we can put out and that’s what we’re going to do.” Spanish team captain Alex Corretja said after the match. “We know it’s a difficult decision because we leave Tommy on the bench and he’s been practising really well and working very hard.”