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Spain wait on Nadal ahead of Davis Cup playoff

Rafael Nadal of Spain embraces his trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's final match at the U.S. Open tennis champi
Rafael Nadal of Spain embraces his trophy after defeating Novak Djokovic of Serbia in their men's final match at the U.S. Open tennis champi

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain captain Alex Corretja will wait until Rafa Nadal arrives in Madrid before deciding whether the U.S. Open champion should play in Friday's singles in the Davis Cup World Group playoff at home to Ukraine.

World number two Nadal won his second Flushing Meadows crown on Monday when he beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the final and after a day's rest in New York will arrive in the Spanish capital on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old is back in the Davis Cup for the first time since helping his country defeat Argentina in the 2011 final in Seville.

Spain, champions three times in the last five years, need to beat Ukraine to protect their elite World Group status after losing in Canada in the first round in February.

"The important thing is Rafa will be here tomorrow," Corretja told a news conference on Tuesday at Madrid's Magic Box arena where the tie is being played on Nadal's favored red clay and where he won the Masters event in May.

"We will evaluate his condition and decide what is best for the team. The key thing is he feels as comfortable as possible when he gets here."

With a fully-fit Nadal back, Spain will be overwhelming favorites in the three-day tie which features two singles matches on Friday, Saturday's doubles and the reverse singles on Sunday.

Corretja has also selected Tommy Robredo, who reached the last eight at the U.S. Open before falling to Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and doubles specialist Marc Lopez.

Lopez said it would be "special" if he could partner Nadal in the doubles.

"But the important thing is not that, but to play and win the point and that is what we are training for," he added.

BEST TENNIS

Ukraine's top-ranked player is number 40 Alexandr Dolgopolov and he will need to be at his very best if his team are to have a chance of an upset in the first meeting in the competition of the two nations.

"It's better for us that Rafa won in New York," Dolgopolov joked. "But Rafa has shown he can adapt quickly, even if he arrives on Friday.

"To beat Rafa you can't make a single mistake and you have to hit the corners of the court. You have to play your best tennis and be at the top of your game to even attempt it."

Nadal has won 20 of his 21 Davis Cup singles, including 16 of 16 on clay, his sole reverse coming on indoor carpet against Czech Jiri Novak in his first appearance in February 2004.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers editing by Tony Jimenez)

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