Spain not taking India lightly: Nadal

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) Spain may be overwhelming favourites in their upcoming Davis Cup World Group Play-off against India, but their star player Rafael Nadal is in no mood to take the hosts lightly.

India, spearheaded by the veteran Leander Paes, will field Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan in the singles matches against 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal and World No.13 David Ferrer.

The Indian doubles combination, traditionally the strong point of the hosts, has been weakened by the withdrawal of Rohan Bopanna due to injury.

As a result, Paes is slated to take on the mighty Spanish along with the relatively inexperienced Myneni.

However, Nadal asserted that with Spain losing World Group Play-offs to comparitive minnows Brazil and Germany in the past couple of years, the visitors are reluctant to let go of their chance to make a return to the World Group.

“It is always difficult to play someone in front of his home crowd. The conditions are dangerous. The Davis Cup is always a special thing. In the past we lost a couple of confrontations that we were favourites and we were in a good position to win. So we have maximum respect for all our opponents,” Nadal told reporters here on Tuesday.

“Our immediate target is to return to the World Group. Spain has been out of the World Group for a couple of years and we would like to be back there.”

“We have squandered opportunities in the past to be in the World Group and this time we are hoping that we can achieve our goal,” he added.

“Away ties are specially difficult and we will have to be at our best.”

Spain have brought a star-studded squad for this tie, which includes, apart from Nadal, Ferrer and the doubles duo of Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.

“We have good team. We have a team that really wants to be here and give their best. I think that a team like Spain should be in the World Group and that is why we are here,” Nadal said.

“Excited to be back in India. I know these players have been practicing here but we will be ready for the confrontation.”

Nadal, who has been struggling with injuries recently, asserted that he has now recovered and is ready to give his best for his country.

“I am happy to be back. I had a tough two months and I am happy to be back where I want to be — on the tennis court,” the 30-year-old said.

“I have been playing in the Davis Cup since I was 17. It is a special feeling to represent your country and there have been some great moments. We had some great success in this competition,” he added.

“It is always a special feeling to play for your country.”

Spain’s non-playing captain Conchita Martinez meanwhile, opined that the conditions in the capital are quite tough, but the visitors are ready for the challenge.

“Its very humid and quite hot but we will play at a time when the heat will be down a bit. The surface is playing okay and we have time to get used to it,” Martinez said.

“I think these play on the tour the whole year. The conditions are hard in Australia, at the US Open, in Cincinnati. If we had to play during the day, these players I am sure would have been ready,” she added.

“As for our return to the World Group, I don’t think there’s anxiety in the team. We are ready to win this tie and and hopefully we will be back in the World Group. That is our ambition.”

–IANS

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