MADRID — 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 today.
Turning out for his country only four days after his US Open triumph in New York, the world number two showed no sign of fatigue or sympathy for his 92nd-ranked opponent as he dismantled the hapless Stakhovsky in devastating fashion at the futuristic “Magic Box” venue.
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 number one Alexandr Dolgopolov in the opening singles rubber.
Meanwhile, Serbia took a 1-0 lead over Canada in their Davis Cup semi-final after Novak Djokovic defeated Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-0 6-4 in the opening singles rubber in Belgrade.
Roared on by a partisan home crowd in the Belgrade Arena, world number one Djokovic strolled to victory in one hour and 44 minutes to put 2010 winners Serbia in the driving seat.
The 26-year old from Belgrade looked a little weary in the first three games after a long-haul flight from New York following his US Open final defeat by Nadal, but it was one-way traffic once he found his feet on the indoor red clay surface.
A small but vociferous band of visiting fans, sporting several large Canadian flags, cheered every winning shot Pospisil could muster but it was the home crowd who were on song after Djokovic wrapped up the match when Pospisil slammed a forehand into the net.
Janko Tipsarevic, who returned to the Serbian squad for the tie after a 16-month absence from the Davis Cup, faces big-serving world number 11 Milos Raonic in today’s other singles.
The winners will play either holders Czech Republic or Argentina in the November 15-17 final. (Reuters)