Thursday, 15 September 2011

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Rafael Nadal is ready to lead Spain into Davis Cup battle this weekend despite the disappointment of losing his US Open title on Monday. Nadal will get the semi-final tie against France under way on Friday when he faces off against Richard Gasquet in Cordoba. Not only is Gasquet a tricky opponent but Nadal also has the added issue of a quick transition back to his favoured clay surface after weeks on the hard courts of North America. The world number two, beaten in four sets by Novak Djokovic in the title match at Flushing Meadows, flew by private jet back to Spain on Tuesday and is pulling out the stops to ensure his country progress to the final. He said: "I am tired for sure. "I played a very long match on Monday and it is a challenge for me to be here. I am trying for my country, but it's tough. "For me it's not a mental problem (playing Davis Cup), it's more of a physical problem. If we talk about the mental part, I am ready to play. "It's very hot here and that makes the court conditions quicker. "I haven't spent much time training but if I can play a good game on Friday, then by Sunday I should be back on track and my game more reliable." Nadal and Gasquet will be followed on court by David Ferrer and Gilles Simon. Djokovic has the chance to cap an excellent few days by leading defending champions Serbia past Argentina in Belgrade. The world number one, who added the US Open crown to his victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year in what has been a remarkable season, is slated to open the tie against David Nalbandian. Nalbandian is a dangerous opponent and not one to be fazed by reputation. The South American told "I feel good. I am the kind of guy who doesn't care about the ranking. I believe in myself and my chances. "Playing Davis Cup is always a pleasure and we will do our best for the weekend." Argentina captain Tito Vazquez backed the 29-year-old to cause Djokovic problems. "He has been a main feature for the Argentinian team in Davis Cup over the past few years and played an excellent set against Nadal at the US open. He is capable of playing anyone. "They are favourites, having the number one player in the world, but we know that every match counts." The second rubber in the tie features Janko Tipsarevic and Juan Martin Del Porto. Del Potro is still finding his form after a long injury lay-off but Tipsarevic remains wary of his talent. "I wouldn't say that I am favourite even though he is ranked lower than me. He is still a very big player," Tipsarevic said. "He didn't play great the past couple of weeks but players like him can raise their level. "I am playing good tennis, I know the court and I will have the backing of the crowd. I would say it is a 50/50 match."


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