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Nadal unavailable as Davis Cup champion Spain faces France

Holder Spain will make do without Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal this weekend as the four-time tournament champion face France in a Davis Cup World Group quarter-final starting Friday.

sports Updated: Jul 06, 2010 18:45 IST

Holder Spain will make do without Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal this weekend as the four-time tournament champion face France in a Davis Cup World Group quarter-final starting Friday.

World number one Nadal, who claimed his second title at the All England club at the weekend, is due to undergo therapy on his right knee which will require some days to complete. Nadal announced his absence last week in hopes that his powerful nation will plug the gap with its copious supply of Iberian tennis talent.

Captain Albert Costa should have no trouble, with number nine Fernando Verdasco and 11th-ranked David Ferrer joining Nicolas Almagro and Feliciano Lopez on the squad, which faces off indoors in Clermont-Ferrand.

But host France, a nine-time champion in the international team competition, finds itself in injury trouble, with top man Jo-Wilfried Tsonga forced to miss the tie with an injury aggravated at Wimbledon.

While Gael Monfils remains available, captain Guy Forget had to plead with Gilles Simon to reverse his decision not to play in order to give a chronic knee injury - now healed - full recovery time.

Also joining the side which last lifted the title in 2001 over Australia is Jeremy Chardy, along with Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau.

The fast indoor surface could still favour the French, who stand 1-5 against their southern neighbours, the win coming in 1923.

"Before Nadal pulled out the Spaniards were a lot better than us," said Forget. "Today the difference is slighter. But their team remains very strong.

"I just hope we can take our chances. We don't want them to get a (title) hat-trick."

Injuries will also colour the other quarter-finals on offer.

Tomas Berdych has withdrawn as the Czechs fly to Chile, citing an abdominal muscle pull suffered in his run to the Wimbledon final against Nadal, and saying he will rest for three weeks.

"If I have a problem, it's this muscle," Berdych said. "The windy conditions (in the final) contributed to it. There are so many matches but I have just one body. Nobody's a machine to cope with everything."

The Czechs, 2009 finalist against Spain, are also without their number two Radek Stepanek (left knee), who last played on the ATP in March.

The Czechs will field number 255 Ivo Minar and 90th-ranked Jan Hajek in singles, along with Lukas Dlouhy and Frantisek Cermak in doubles for the clay tie in Coquimbo.

Chile are missing injured Fernando Verdasco. Nicolas Massu, Jorge Aguilar, Paul Capdeville and Cristobal Saavedra will bid to win the first tie between the teams since 1967.

In Moscow, Nikolay Davydenko will lead Russia against Argentine after suffering a broken wrist which kept him off court from mid-March to mid-June.

Also making up the Russian side at the indoor Olympic Stadium are Mikhail Youzhny, Teimuraz Gabashvili and Igor Kunitsyn.

The tie is a repeat of the 2006 final which Russia won to earn a 3-2 head-to-head lead. The three-time finalist South Americans will welcome the return of David Nalbandian, who has been out injured since Monte Carlo three months ago. Horacio Zeballos, Eduardo Schwank and Leonardo Mayer play for the visitors.

Ivan Ljubicic will reverse his Davis Cup retirement to help out Croatia in the fierce Balkan battle with neighbor Serbia, led by Novak Djokovic.

The Croatians are hurting, with Mario Ancic still not back after illness. Ljubicic will step into the breach for his first Davis appearance since 2007.

He is joined by Marin Cilic, Antonio Veic and Ivan Dodig indoors at seaside Split. Serbia go with Wimbledon semi-finalist Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and doubles ace Nenad Zimonjic.

"I have to play Davis Cup next weekend, so ... no break for me still," said the exhausted Djokovic after his Wimbledon exit.