MADRID (AFP) - US Open champion Rafael Nadal teamed up with Marc Lopez to give Spain an unassailable 3-0 lead over Ukraine in their Davis Cup World Group play-off on Saturday.
The Spanish pair beat Denys Molchanov and Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-4 in just over three hours to ensure the five-time champions will remain amongst the world's top 16 nations next year.
It was Nadal's third best-of-five set match in just six days as after sealing his 13th Grand Slam title in New York on Monday, he cruised to a 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 win over Stakhovsky on Friday.
"The doubles are always up and down in Davis Cup - very long matches and on clay even more so." Nadal, who will not play in the dead rubbers on Sunday, told www.daviscup.com.
"We started great, then we played a few bad games in the second set when we had everything under control. The positive thing is that in the last two sets we played with the right attitude, we were able to win the confrontation and the goal is done, we stay in the World Group for another year." The 27-year-old Nadal hadn't been expected to play in the doubles having not done so in the Davis Cup since 2006.
However, Nadal admitted on Friday that having made the effort to come straight from six weeks on the American hard courts back onto the clay of the Spanish capital, it was only a small extra demand to play in the doubles.