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TENNIS

‘Day to remember’ at Davis Cup as Spain draws level with Germany

Rafael Nadal described his return to action as "a day to remember" after the 16-time Grand Slam winner pulled Spain level in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany.

'Day to remember' at Davis Cup as Spain draws level with Germany
Spain's Rafa Nadal celebrates winning 6-2 6-2 6-3 the Davis Cup quarter-final tennis match against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber at the bullring of Valencia on Friday. PHOTO: JOSE JORDAN / AFP
Nadal, playing his first match since limping out of the Australian Open in January with a hip injury, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in just over two and half hours in Valencia, stretching his winning streak in the Davis Cup to a record 23 matches in singles and doubles.
 
The victory for the world number one in the Plaza de Toros bullring levelled the tie after world number four Alexander Zverev beat 33rd-ranked David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
 
“Of course, it's a positive thing to win in straight sets,” said 31-year-old Nadal, who has not lost a singles match in the Davis Cup since his 2004 debut and in doubles since 2005. “I played a solid match. I feel good when I return to the clay courts.”
 
Nadal, building up to an assault on what he hopes will be an 11th French Open title, said it had been a special day playing on home ground again. 
 
“It's a memorable day, in front of my own crowd. It's always special to play in these arenas,” added Nadal, who has played in four of Spain's five Davis Cup-winning teams. “It's great to be back even if after an injury it's always difficult.”
 
On Saturday, Marc Lopez and Feliciano Lopez will face Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff in the doubles, paving the way for a potential tie-deciding clash between Nadal and 20-year-old Zverev on Sunday.
 
Spain have history on their side — they have won 26 straight home ties, with their last defeat on Spanish soil against Brazil in 1999.
 
The winner of the Valencia quarter-final will face either defending champions France or Italy for a place in the final.
 
35th win for Cilic
 
Lucas Pouille, the world number 11, gave France the first point in Genoa with a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1 win over 62nd-ranked Andreas Seppi.
 
Italian number one Fabio Fognini then won a bad-tempered 3hr 30min rubber against world number 80 Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to make the tie 1-1.
 
Fognini, who spent over 11 hours on court in the victory over Japan in the first round, was furious after Chardy had brushed his shoulder against him during a changeover early in the third set.
 
“I didn't even know if I really touched him on the shoulder. He made this a huge thing, like in football sometimes where the guy you don't touch still collapses,” said Chardy.
 
Chardy, a surprise selection ahead of Adrian Mannarino, the world 25, suffered his first Davis Cup defeat in six matches.
 
On Saturday, France's Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will face Fognini and Simone Bolelli in the doubles.
 
“I am ready to play three days, for sure,” said Fognini who has played for Italy every year since 2008. “The Davis Cup is special. I am playing not just for me but also for Italy.”
 
Croatia, the 2005 champions, got off to a winning start against Kazakhstan in Varazdin when world number three Marin Cilic outclassed Dmitry Popko, the world 258, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
 
The victory was Cilic's 35th in Davis Cup, just one short of Ivan Ljubicic's Croatian record of 36. 
 
But Mikhail Kukushkin, the top-ranked Kazakh player at 92, then levelled the tie by seeing off world 28 Borna Coric, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-2.
 
In Nashville, John Isner and Sam Querrey lifted the Americans a 2-0 lead over last year's runners-up Belgium as the US tries to reach the semis for the first time in six years.
 
Isner needed three hours and 14 minutes to dispose of world number 319 Joris de Loore 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, while world number 14 Querrey beat 110th ranked Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 in a two-hour long second rubber.
 
Belgium, who are playing without world No. 10 David Goffin, don't have a player ranked in the top 100 in their lineup.
 
By AFP's Dave James
 

TENNIS

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca

Rafael Nadal married his partner of 14 years, Xisca Perello, at a castle in Mallorca on Saturday.

IN PICS: Rafa Nadal weds childhood sweetheart in Mallorca
Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

Nadal, the 19-time grand slam champion, tied the knot with 31-year-old Perello at La Fortaleza, with a reported 350 guests invited to a private ceremony.

Juan Carlos I, the king of Spain from 1975 to 2014, was believed to be among those in attendance while the Michelin-star chef, Quique Dacosta, was reportedly in charge of catering.

The newlyweds shared some official photos of the day through the Fundacion Rafa Nadal, the NGO the tennis player set up on Mallorca

Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

 

Nadal, 33, met his wife through his younger sister Maribel, a childhood friend of Perello.

They started dating in 2005 when they were both teenagers after meeting several years before.


Photo: Fundacion Rafa Nadal

The couple announced their engagement in January and revealed that the tennis ace had proposed on a romantic trip to Rome last May but chose to  keep the news private.

 

Perello, has always shunned the media spotlight although she has been pictured courtside at some of Nadal’s biggest matches.


Nadal kisses Perello after winning against France's Gael Monfils in the final tennis match at the Monte-Carlo ATP Masters Series Tournament in Monaco on April 17, 2016. 

But she isn't always there. In a 2011 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Perello explained: “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out.

“It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me… No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there's a risk we might stop getting along.”

She works in insurance and is a business graduate but also serves as project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity which Nadal launched almost ten years ago.

In an interview with sports newspaper Marca last year, the world number 2 hinted that he wouldn't be ready to start a family until he had retired from tennis. 

'I keep my commitment with tennis and my happiness', Nadal told Marca. 'I enjoy both in tennis and outside it. I have a girlfriend too and I am not alone to take decisions.

“Having family? I don't know, things are not easy to be predict. At this age, I thought that I would have already been a former player and that I would have started a family.”

READ ALSO: Rafa Nadal donates €1million to help victims of Mallorca floods 

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