Nadal will face Richard Gasquet on the outdoor clay court in the Los Califas bull ring. Spain is favored to bounce back from last year’s 5-0 loss to France and extend its record run of 19 straight home wins that dates back to 1999.
Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in New York in four sets on Monday.
“I am a little tired, as is logical and not in tiptop form because I haven’t had much time to train on clay, around 4 1/2 hours,” said Nadal, who has a 9-0 record against Gasquet. “And that is cutting it fine for a game against one of the best players in the world on clay.”
Gasquet had no problem accepting the role of underdog.
“Clearly, last year we were affected by the loss, but we don’t come here looking for revenge,” Spain captain Albert Costa said at Wednesday’s draw. “The loss of Monfils is important because he is very good player on clay, but they have a very good team.”
France captain Guy Forget made the surprise move of keeping his best player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, out of the singles. He will play in Saturday’s doubles with Michael Llodra against Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.
Even with Nadal at less than 100 percent, Spain team enters the series in excellent form. Without Nadal in the quarterfinals, Ferrer and Lopez led their country to its first win on U.S. soil in Austin, Texas.
Costa said temperatures set to reach 98 degrees will play to his team’s strength.
“I think it will be good for our team,” he said. “The ball bounces (more) and we like to play under these conditions.”View Entire Story
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