Davis Cup: No Nadal, no problem for Spain

The 14-time Grand Slam champion has made himself unavailable for the trip to Belgrade for the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Serbia.

Rafael Nadal finished as Miami Open runner-up last week.   -  AP

Spain captain Conchita Martinez believes her team still has the armoury to beat Serbia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals this weekend despite the absence of 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal. Nadal made himself unavailable for the trip to Belgrade, where World No. 2 Novak Djokovic leads the home challenge, after opting to prepare for the upcoming clay court season at home.

Spain, the five-time Davis Cup champion, is also without the likes of Roberto Bautista-Agut, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco but can still call on 19th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta and World No. 24 Albert Ramos-Vinolas for the singles.

"We have a chance even though Nadal is not here," Martinez told www.daviscup.com. "My first team is here because these are the players who have made themselves available. I have two players in the Top 25, we have a great team and will do everything in our power to win."

Key to the tie will be the fitness and mindset of Djokovic who has been suffering from an elbow injury and has seen his career suffer a series of setbacks since completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open last June. "You never know how Novak is going to come out after a few weeks off and we just have to look at every rubber as an opportunity," added Martinez.

Djokovic will take on Ramos-Vinolas in the tie's opening singles rubber on Friday, followed by a clash between Viktor Troicki and Carreno Busta. Having missed the Miami Masters through injury, Djokovic is desperate to kick-start a 2017 season which has seen him win just seven matches. "Taking into consideration the Spanish team rankings, they are not to be underestimated at all," Djokovic told Thursday's draw news conference.

"It's still a very good team even though their top two singles players are not here. That's their strength, they have 10 players they can rotate and are dangerous on any surface. We must take nothing for granted although some would say it's a third-choice Spain team here. Nadal is of course their star player but they have a long history of producing top performers and we know we'll have to be at our best to beat this outfit."

Djokovic led Serbia to its only Davis Cup title in 2010. The winner of the weekend's tie will go through to a semifinal against either France or Great Britain.


Friday (from 1100 GMT)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)

Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP)

Saturday (from 1200 GMT)

Nenad Zimonjic/Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Marc Lopez/Jaume Munar (ESP)

Sunday (from 1100 GMT)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP)

Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :