Nadal pulls out of opening singles tie due to stomach upset

Sep 19, 2016, 00:57

"So I had an idea so it was not bothering me", said Lopez, who turned up in place of Nadal and defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to give Spain 1-0 lead over India in World Group play-off.

The win gives Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead in the World Group playoff and makes today's reverse singles rubbers a mere formality.

Ramanathan, who was scheduled to face the might of the 14-time Grand Slam victor in the first singles contest of the tie, seemed to be boosted by the prospect of facing a lower rated opponent and fought bravely before going down 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6 in two hours and 15 minutes at the R.K Khanna Tennis Stadium here. As the match seemed to be heading into the fifth set, the Spaniards fought back and won the set 6-4.

Up against the reigning Olympic and French Open doubles champion Marc Lopez, who does not play singles anymore, the 19-year-old Nagal dominated the proceedings before losing 3-6, 6-1, 3-6 in the dead fourth rubber, that lasted more than two hours. "That s where we think we need to be with a lot of our players in the top hundred", Nadal told reporters. The lead stayed with the Spaniards, who forged ahead 2-1 with Nadal serving out the set with an easy forehand victor in the 10th. At 3-2 on serve in the third set, he takes a medical timeout to work on his hamstring - the journalist behind me shouts, sadly, "Oh no!"

Once he got into the groove, Paes showed the way as he volleyed, intercepted and blocked the power-packed groundstrokes of Nadal and Lopez in a superlative show. The crowd goes wild, he goes wild, he takes deep breaths to calm his nerves, and serves the set out. "Many thanks to all the fans." said Nadal, who conceded that India was "very close" to his heart as he had a part of his Foundation in Anantapur.

Lopez then held his serve fairly comfortably to seal the set and the match. The match lasted two hours and three minutes. Paes was broken in the third game and Spain wrapped up the match in a jiffy with Nadal lending the finishing touches with a powerful forehand down the line victor.

Nadal's super-strokes had the Indians gasping in the ninth game, served by Paes. The second set was the longest where the result came out in a tie breaker with Spain winning it by 6-2. But the Indians reeled off three consecutive points to save the break point before holding serve. The Spanish class was evident in the way they ran away with the tie-break, first to 5-0 before closing it out at 7-2.

Ramkumar lost a few points on his serve at the start of the match but a few unforced errors meant he was facing two breakpoints.

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