Rafa returns in style | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, April 07, 2018

Rafa returns in style

Rafael Nadal described his return to action as "a memorable day" after the 16-time Grand Slam winner pulled Spain level in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany.

Nadal, playing his first match since limping out of the Australian Open in January with a hip injury, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in just over two and half hours in Valencia, stretching his winning streak in the Davis Cup to a record 23 matches in singles and doubles.

The victory for the world number one in the Plaza de Toros bullring levelled the tie after world number four Alexander Zverev beat 33rd-ranked David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

"Of course, it's a positive thing to win in straight sets," said 31-year-old Nadal, who has not lost a singles match in the Davis Cup since his 2004 debut and in doubles since 2005.

"I played a solid match. I feel good when I return to the clay courts."

Nadal, building up to an assault on what he hopes will be an 11th French Open title, said it had been a special day playing on home ground again.

"It's a memorable day, in front of my own crowd. It's always special to play in these arenas," added Nadal, who has played in four of Spain's five Davis Cup-winning teams. "It's great to be back even if after an injury it's always difficult."

On Sunday, Marc Lopez and Feliciano Lopez will face Tim Puetz and Jan-Lennard Struff in the doubles, paving the way for a potential tie-deciding clash between Nadal and 20-year-old Zverev on Sunday.

Spain have history on their side -- they have won 26 straight home ties.

The winner of the Valencia quarterfinal will face either defending champions France or Italy for a place in the final. Lucas Pouille, the world number 11, gave France the first point in Genoa with a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-1 win over 62nd-ranked Andreas Seppi.

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