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Djokovic in awe of mighty Nadal

Novak Djokovic is just two places behind Rafael Nadal in the world rankings, but on Sunday it felt like a chasm. Djokovic slumped to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 defeat to Nadal as defending champions Spain romped into the Davis Cup quarter-finals with a 4-1 first round win over Serbia.

sports Updated: Mar 09, 2009 11:27 IST

Novak Djokovic is just two places behind Rafael Nadal in the world rankings, but on Sunday it felt like a chasm.

World number three Djokovic slumped to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 defeat to Nadal as defending champions Spain romped into the Davis Cup quarter-finals with a 4-1 first round win over Serbia.

Djokovic admitted he was in awe of the Spaniard who showed no ill-effects from the knee injury which had kept him off the circuit for a month before the Benidorm claycourt tie.

"He showed why he's the best in the world and so dominant on this surface," said Djokovic after his 11th defeat to the world number one in 15 career meetings.

"It's hard to play against someone like Nadal who makes the transition from defence to offence so fast. It was very hard to overcome Spain in Spain."

Nadal had been even more impressive on Saturday when he lost just three games in swatting aside Janko Tipsarevic, a win built on putting together a run of 11 successive games.

"This was a very important win for me and Spain against a very big opponent," said Nadal after his victory over Djokovic.

"I wasn't thinking about the 11 games I won in a row against Tipsarevic. I just focus on the match and not worry about how good people might think I am."

Spain, who won the Davis Cup in 2008 despite Nadal missing the final against Argentina because of injuury, next tackle Germany at home in the quarter-finals in July in the week after Wimbledon.

It will be a repeat of last year's lasts eight tie in Bremen where Spain came out on top 4-1.

"We played them last year at home and lost," said Nicolas Kiefer whose eighth career win in eight meetings with Jurgen Melzer helped Germany to a 3-2 win over Austria.

"If we go to Spain and play them on clay, it's 99.9 per cent that they will win. But our objective was to reach the quarter-finals."

The United States, 32-time champions, eased past a Switzerland team missing the injured Roger Federer, and will travel to face 2005 champions Croatia.

Andy Roddick, who won both his singles at the weekend to take his career tally to 31 in the tournament, second only to John McEnroe, is not sure that the Croatians would select a clay surface, given the country's supply of big hitters.

"I'm not convinced that it will be on clay at all, we'll have to see."

Israel defied violent demonstrations as well as a virtually empty stadium in Malmo to come from behind and beat Sweden 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals for only the second time.

Harel Levy sealed the crucial point by beating Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 after Israel had started the final day 2-1 down. Israel will welcome Russia in July in what will be their first quarter-final since 1987.

The match had been played behind closed doors as protestors, demonstrating against Israel's bloody December Gaza offensive, clashed with police outside.

Israel captain Eyal Ran tried to forget the furore over the protests.

"I think tennis was the winner of this weekend," said Ran.

This year's remaining quarter-final will be between the Czech Republic, who put out France, and last year's runners-up Argentina who whitewashed Holland.