Nadal wins on return to national duty for Spain

Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:40pm EDT
 
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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal returned to Davis Cup action for the first time in two years on Friday with his victory putting Spain ahead in a Group One relegation playoff against Denmark.

The 14-times grand slam champion, short of form and beaten in the third round of the U.S. Open by Fabio Fognini, overcame world number 909 Mikael Torpegaard 6-4 6-3 6-2.

The 29-year-old's last appearance was against Ukraine in 2013, since when the five-times champions have tumbled out of the World Group, and he was joined by David Ferrer as Spain established a 2-0 lead on day one.

Nadal did not have things all his own way against Torpegaard, who had three break points to take a 5-4 lead in the opening set before Nadal regained control.

In the World Group playoffs, Switzerland's big guns Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka helped their country into a 2-0 lead against the Netherlands, although Wawrinka was given a huge scare before beating Thiemo de Bakker in five sets.

Nadal's U.S. Open conqueror Fognini beat Russian teenager Andrey Rublev to leave Italy tied at 1-1 after the first day of their World Group playoff in Irkutsk.

The United States, 32-times champions, were locked at 1-1 with Uzbekistan after Steve Johnson lost a five-setter to Denis Istomin before Jack Sock leveled things up with victory over Farrukh Dustov in Tashkent.

(Reporting by Tim Hanlon, additional reporting by Martyn Herman)

 
Rafael Nadal of Spain during his Davis Cup tennis match against Denmark in Odense, Denmark September 18, 2015.    REUTERS/Frank Cilius/Scanpix Denmark