A ruthless Rafa Nadal made a seamless transition from hard court to clay when he crushed Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 to give Spain a commanding 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group playoff in Madrid yesterday.
Turning out for his country only four days after his US Open triumph in New York, the world No2 showed no sign of fatigue or sympathy for his 92nd-ranked opponent as he dismantled Stakhovsky in devastating fashion.
Clubbing winners apparently at will on the Manolo Santana showcourt, Nadal put Spain firmly in control following Fernando Verdasco’s 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 success against Ukrainian No 1 Alexandr Dolgopolov in the opening singles rubber.
Stakhovsky raised his arms and was given a rousing cheer when he won the opening game of the third set.
Nadal secured the crucial break to lead 5-4 and clinched victory on his first match point when Stakhovsky sent a backhand service return sailing beyond the baseline.
“Obviously it’s not the ideal thing physically to change surfaces in a couple of days,” the Spaniard said. “But it’s always special for me to play on clay,” the 27-year-old added.
Canada encountered Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in its maiden semi-final yesterday, but Djokovic was too strong in the opener versus big-serving Vasek Pospisil, cruising 6-2 6-0 6-4 on clay in Belgrade.
Canada, however, leveled the series when Milos Raonic toppled a slumping Janko Tipsarevic 5-7 6-3 3-6 6-3 10-8.