Rafa Nadal took court, much to the joy of the Indian tennis fans, partnering Marc Lopez in the doubles and beat the combination of Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni in four sets. The win gave Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Playoff and ensures a return to the World Group next year.
Playing in the doubles, not the most prolific of Spain’s event over the years in the Davis Cup, both the players showed the gold medal in Rio wasn’t a one-time thing. The win also denied Paes a record 43rd doubles win in Davis Cup competitions.
Nadal applauded Paes for what he’s done for the sport and achieved. He also acknowledged that it was never going to be easy to beat India in the rubber that they’ve excelled in. “He played a great match and it was amazing tennis tonight. It was a pleasure to play him in his own country. He’s one of the biggest stars in doubles and one of the best players in the history of our sport. It was great fun, pleasure to compete for both Marc and me to compete against a good team in India. The doubles was a tough match and anything could have happened,” he said.
He added that Spain return to the World Group, “where we belong”. “But we’re back in the World Group where we should be with players in the top 100 and today we’re back and that’s the most important thing. The team here and even those who aren’t here made a contribution to this,” he said.
Marc had his serve tested in the first set as both Paes and Saketh went after one-half of the French Open champions but he improved as the match progressed to hold with considerable ease at moments. “Serve is a tough part for me. I tried to get more of my first serves in as the match progressed. I was serving slowly at times ~ 150-160 kmph at times and then Rafa helped at the net. Unfortunately the nerves made things difficult for me but overall I feel good about the match,” he said.
Nadal has had numerous matches in India with a runner-up position at the 2008 Chennai Open the only competitive one except playing International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) – an exhibition event at the close of the season – for India Aces. He maintained that he enjoys playing in India and playing in new places is great for tennis. “It’s always special to play in a country where you don’t play often. Last year I played in Philippines in Manila and it is a lot of fun to travel and play in many places around the world. Its lucky that I’ve played many times in India in Chennai, the IPTL and now the Davis Cup. It is great to see the fans and it is great for the players and for the sport,” said the 14-time Grand Slam winner.
Rafa, however, remained tight lipped on the chances of once again playing in India during the IPTL.