- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

ALICANTE, SPAIN (AP) - Top-ranked Rafael Nadal will play for the four-time Davis Cup champions in their first-round series against Belgium.

The best-of-five matchup will mark Nadal’s first return to the court since an Australian Open quarterfinal loss to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who is on the team along with Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.

“He’s been progressively improving and when he arrives at our team camp he’ll be in playing condition,” Spain captain Alberto Costa said Thursday. “Having the top-ranked player and the best athlete of 2010 offers certain tranquility.”

Nadal tore a muscle in his right leg at the Australian Open, which denied him the chance to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once.

Nadal is playing in the Davis Cup for the first time since helping Spain to its fourth title in 2009.

Spain has won two of three previous matchups against Belgium, including a 5-0 sweep in their last meeting in 2003. The series will be held in Charleroi from March 4-6.

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