Nadal crushes Gasquet as Spain take 1-0 lead
Sep 16, 2011, 12:48 GMT
Cordoba, Spain - Rafael Nadal wasted no time in sending Spain to a 1-0 lead over France on Friday as the US Open finalist showed surprise reserves in a 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 hammering of Richard Gasquet in their Davis Cup World Group semi-final.
But in Belgrade in the tie between Serbia and Argentina, US Open winner Novak Djokovic failed to answer the call, fulfilling hints that the world number one was injured from lifting his third Grand Slam title of the season.
He was replaced in the match against David Nalbandian by Viktor Troicki after citing lower back and rib pain.
There was no jet-leg evident from Nadal, who thrived in the over-30 Celsius heat of southern Spain.
But the Spaniard admitted he was pleased to get out in three sets. 'It was very hot today, I'm close to the limit of my energy. I tried my best to be here and play.'
Nadal never faced a break point while breaking Gasquet on seven of 16 chances and at one point winning ten games in a row.
'I started well and got the first point for my team. I'm very happy about that,' he said.
'I tried to keep my best concentration at all times, I knew a long match would make it a lot tougher on me today.'
The losing finalist to Djokovic on Monday night at Flushing Meadows began with a break of Gasquet and never let up over the course of two hours. Nadal ended with a drop shot to give Spain a 1-0 advantage as David Ferrer prepared to face Gilles Simon of France.
In a World Group promotion tie in Sydney, Roger Federer fired 22 aces to pull Switzerland level 1-1 with Australia as both nations bid for a return to the World Group for 2012.
It's all to play for on the grass at the Royal Sydney Golf Club, with the weekend winner moving back into the competition's elite eight.
Federer, who came within a point of reaching the US Open final last weekend but was unable to get over Novak Djokovic, came good with impeccable timing for the Swiss as he posted a 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-3 comeback against Lleyton Hewitt to lock up the scoreline locked at the end of the first day.
Federer's win in just under three hours saved face for the visitors after teenaged Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic upset experienced Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Federer was ambushed in the opening set by fellow 30-year-old Hewitt, who has made a hash of this season due to slow-to-heal toe surgery in the spring.
But the world number three Swiss proceeded to take the match by the next and won running away with 35 service winners and five breaks of serve.
The winner said it took a set to get used to the 'old school' grass court at the club.
'I realised this was much more difficult than I expected. 'I was a bit afraid of hitting my shots because of all the bad bounces. I was happy that I got so much better as the match went on.'
Hewitt, his ranking down to 199, had actually won his last match with Federer, beating him on grass in Halle, Germany, in 2010.
In the opening rubber, top Aussie Bernard Tomic surprised 19th-ranked Wawrinka, winning without facing a break point but said he had early nerves when he knew Federer was on the bench watching him play.