NEW DELHI (AFP) – Spain took a commanding 2-0 lead over India in the Davis Cup World Group playoff despite the last-minute pullout of star player Rafael Nadal in New Delhi on Friday.
Feliciano Lopez, who took court in place of Nadal in the first match, and David Ferrer claimed contrasting victories in their respective singles matches.
The left-handed Lopez served past Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 while the 13th-ranked Ferrer outplayed Saketh Myneni 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
Nadal s absence proved to be an anti-climax for the packed crowd at Delhi s RK Khanna Tennis Stadium, but Lopez and Ferrer made up for it with some quality tennis.
Although the Indian organisers reported that Nadal was down with a stomach bug, his Spanish teammates insisted that a wrist niggle made the 14-time Grand Slam winner sit out.
“Rafa is OK. Nothing with his stomach. He had some problems with the wrist and hopefully he will play in the weekend,” Lopez told reporters.
In the first match, Lopez broke in the fifth game to go 3-2 up in the first set, setting the pace against an opponent who played his heart out in front of a raucous home crowd.
The 34-year-old Lopez kept the momentum going in the second set with his excellent range of shots, seemingly unfazed by the hot and humid conditions.
The 21-year-old Ramanathan, placed 203rd in the ATP rankings, broke Lopez in the eighth game of the third set to pull one back and get the home fans behind him.
But Lopez soon gained ground and showcased his superiority in the final set of the match.
Ferrer came out all guns blazing in the second match of the day to take the first set in just 21 minutes and unsettle India s Myneni, who is ranked 137th.
The 2013 French Open finalist was broken just once in the sixth game of the second set to stamp his class on the match.
Ferrer, who stunned Myneni with his speed and baseline play, kept up the pace through the course of the match to wrap up things in just one hour and 28 minutes.
Spain will stay in the premier World Group next year if they win one further match in the best-of-five rubber at Delhi s RK Khanna Tennis Stadium.