- Davis Cup
Nadal guides Spain into World Group
Newly-crowned US Open champion Rafael Nadal helped Spain reach the World Group of the Davis Cup after he and his partner Marc Lopez beat Ukraine in the doubles' rubber in Madrid.
With a 2-0 lead to their name in the play-off after Nadal defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky - the man who knocked out Roger Federer at Wimbledon - and Fernando Verdasco overcame Alexandr Dolgopolov in the singles' ties, Nadal and Lopez claimed a 6-2 6-7(6) 6-3 6-4 win to send Spain into the World Group for the 18th consecutive year.
Spain, five-time winners of the Davis Cup and beaten finalists in 2012, were in command when Nadal and Lopez claimed the first set to the loss of two games.
However, Stakhovsky and Denys Molchanov hit back to level the encounter by taking a tight tiebreak. Spain, champions three times in the past five stagings of the competition, kept up their incredible record of playing in the top tier of the Davis Cup by sweeping to the third and fourth sets to wrap up the tie.
Defending champions Czech Republic are into the World Group final after they saw off Argentina 3-0, with Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beating Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos 6-3 6-4 6-2.
"We played a great game. Everything was in the right place today. We didn't drop a serve. We were taking our chances," Berdych said.
Now on a winning streak of eight games, the Czech Republic with the pairing of Berdych and Stepanek are in confident mood after booking their place in the final.
"It feels great; this competition means a lot to us. We would like to keep that trophy because it's beautiful," Stepanek said.
Switzerland will remain in the World Group for 2014 after Stanislas Wawrinka and Michael Lammer won a pulsating five-set encounter against Ecuador, squandering a two-set advantage to take the fifth 6-4 and win the play-off tie 3-0.
Australia are 2-1 up over Poland, while Germany lead Brazil by the same scoreline. Belgium trail Israel 2-1, with Colombia 2-1 in front over Japan.
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