Nadal looks strong after month off
Rafael Nadal gave Spain a 2-0 lead over Belgium in the first round of the Davis Cup on Friday after more than a month out injured, and defending champion Serbia was surprisingly locked at 1-1 with India after the opening singles.
Nadal was dominant in his comeback from a thigh injury, never giving the 144th-ranked Ruben Bemelmans a glimmer of hope in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 rout.
''I felt really comfortable with myself and I felt I had the match under control,'' said Nadal, who last played in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Jan. 26. ''It is not easy to come back after a while without competition.
''The important thing me now is to play matches, to find the right level, the right rhythm.''
Fernando Verdasco of Spain earlier beat Xavier Malisse 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Somdev Devvarman downed Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 7-5, 7-6 (3) to draw India level with Serbia after Viktor Troicki had struggled before beating Rohan Bopanna 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3.
Tipsarevic led 4-1 in the first set, 5-2 in the second and served for the third set, but Devvarman fought back each time. He sealed the match after another in a series of unforced errors by the Serb.
''It was obvious Tipsarevic wasn't in the match,'' Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic said.
The star of Serbia's 3-2 win in last year's final over France, Troicki cruised through the first two sets against the 629th-ranked Indian but then faltered. Bopanna started hitting some spectacular winners after converting his first break point for the third set.
''He definitely played well and I didn't,'' Troicki said. ''I became nervous after he tied, but I somehow managed to regain my composure in the decisive set.''
The United States also split its matches in Chile, with Andy Roddick opening with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Nicolas Massu taking the opener and John Isner losing a five-set marathon to Paul Capdeville.
Capdeville gave Chile a big lift by rallying against Isner and winning 6-7 (5), 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4. The Chilean had the only break in the next-to-last game of the 4-hour, 21-minute match when a tired Isner netted an overhead smash.
''It's always really difficult to win when you're two sets behind,'' Capdeville said. ''The people were screaming every point and I never felt tired. I always was saying, 'Come on, Come on, I can do it, I can do it' - and I did it.''
Isner won the longest match in history at Wimbledon last year, beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set after 11 hours, 5 minutes.
Philipp Kohlschreiber saved a match point before beating Ivan Dodig 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 to pull Germany level at 1-1 with Croatia.
Dodig had a match point at 6-5 in the fourth-set tiebreaker with the German serving. But Kohlschreiber won three points in a row, with Dodig double-faulting on set point.
''Among all the five-setters I have played in the Davis Cup, I would rate this one in the top two,'' Kohlschreiber said. ''It was obvious that he was tired in the fifth set. He was eager to win, was one point away, and that was tough to handle in the fifth set.''
In the opening singles, Marin Cilic overcame Florian Mayer 4-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
David Nalbandian and Juan Monaco gave Argentina a 2-0 lead over Romania.
Nalbandian aggravated a groin injury and strained his lower leg in defeating Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Monaco defeated Hanescu 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Also, Sweden leads Russia 2-0; Czech Republic and Kazakhstan are level at 1-1; and France has a 2-0 advantage over Austria.
Doubles are scheduled for Saturday, and reverse singles on Sunday.