Brazil upbeat against weakened Spain in Davis Cup
SAO PAULO (AP) — The absence of Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer gives Brazil extra confidence heading into the World Group playoff against Spain in the Davis Cup.
The nations play this weekend in Sao Paulo with the winner returning to the competition’s main draw in 2015.
Without Ferrer and Nadal, who is coming off an injury, Spain will have to rely on 15th-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut and 45th-ranked Marcel Granollers for the clay-court series.
Brazil will be led by 83rd-ranked Thomaz Bellucci and double’s specialists Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, who won the mixed doubles title at the U.S. Open last week with Sania Mirza of India.
“Spain remains favored with this team but Brazil has a better chance,” Soares said Tuesday. “Without a doubt we are more motivated because Spain is bringing a different team. We know that it’s possible to win this tie.”
A five-time Davis Cup winner, Spain is trying to avoid dropping out of the World Group for the first time since 1996. Its latest title came in 2011. Marc Lopez and David Marrero will likely play doubles for the Spaniards against Brazil. Pablo Andujar, ranked 44th in the world, is also on the team.
“The five players who are in Brazil are capable of giving us a win,” Spain captain Carlos Moya said, downplaying the absence of the No. 2-ranked Nadal and the No. 5 ranked Ferrer.
Nadal had said he intended to play against Brazil before sustaining a right wrist injury that also kept him from trying to defend his U.S. Open title.
Brazil, which fell to the United States in the first round of the World Group last year, will also have 201st-ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva playing singles along with Bellucci, who is coming off a four-set loss to Stan Wawrinka in the second round of the U.S. Open.
“I’m optimistic after my last few matches,” Bellucci said. “I’ve been playing well and feeling well on the court.”
Guilherme Clezar, 189th in the world, is Brazil’s fifth player for the matches at the Ibirapuera indoor arena starting Friday.
The two nations last played in 1999, when three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten led Brazil to victory against Moya’s Spain. In six other meetings, Spain won five.
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