New Delhi: India will have to contend with none other than 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal as Spain on Tuesday named a full strength team for the upcoming Davis Cup World Group playoff tie.
Apart from world No. 5 Nadal, who lost in the fourth round at the U.S. Open, Spain has packed the side with world No. 13 David Ferrer, world No. 18 Feliciano Lopez and Mark Lopez (world No. 19 in doubles).
India's highest-ranked singles player Saketh Myneni is placed 143 in the ATP chart and Ramkumar Ramanathan is ranked 202. India though have competitive doubles players in the squad in Rohan Bopanna (world No. 17 in doubles) and Leander Paes (ranked 62).
"That is a fully loaded Spain team and it will be a battle for us. Hope it brings the best out of us," Myneni said from New York, reacting to the squad announcement.
While Spain are European powerhouse in the game, India have been consistently knocking the World Group doors. With the current set of players, it is likely to keep doing that, reaching the playoff stage via Asia/Oceania zone but to enter and then stay in World Group India need to find much better singles players.
India beat South Korea 4-1 in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie to reach the playoff stage while Spain beat Romania with identical margin in the Europe/Africa Group I contest.
The last time India and Spain competed against each other was in 1965 when Spain beat India 3-2 in a home tie.
Spain lead the Head-to-Head record 2-1 with India managing to beat them, way back in 1927 in an away tie.
The first tie between the two nations was on a neutral venue, in Great Britain, where Spain beat India in the World Group Quarterfinal 4-1.