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    Mar 2009


    Default Former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo announced her retireme

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    David Ferrer will join Rafael Nadal for the opening match at the Davis Cup final for Spain. Fernando Verdasco was sensationally left out of Friday's singles against the Czech Republic.

    World number nine Verdasco had been cleared by doctors for weekend selection, but admitted that a right leg muscle problem from London last week was not yet fully healed.

    "It keeps getting better, but I'm not one hundred percent," said the Spaniard.

    Captain Albert Costa played it safe, choosing number 18 Ferrer, who has won all four of his Davis matches this season, including an upset of Novak Djokovic when Spain beat Serbia in March.

    Ferrer did not play in the July quarter-final against Germany, but was brought back for the semi-final over Israel. Nadal will be playing for the team for the first time since March as Spain bid for an 18th consecutive win at home and 20th on the trot on clay.

    World number two Nadal will open the Iberian account on Friday against Tomas Berdych, with Ferrer to follow against Radek Stepanek.Verdasco was picked for doubles alongside Feliciano Lopez, with the side facing the Czech pair of Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek Saturday.

    Spain are seeking a fourth Davis Cup title this decade, while the Czechs won as Czechoslovakia 29 years ago. Both Verdasco and Nadal have at least a few small points to quickly prove after each left last week's season-ending World Tour Finals with 0-3 records in group play.

    Verdasco played the hero's role in the 2008 Spanish Davis Cup finals triumph over Argentina in South America, starring in the injury absence of Nadal.

    "One thing is for sure, we must not enter this final thinking the job is already done," said Verdasco in the run-up to the contest indoor at the Palau Sant Jordi.

    "We are favourites, but it doesn't mean that we are already champions. We must enter the final with a humble attitude."

    Nadal needs a big weekend to power his confidence for 2010 after suffering major setbacks this season from injuries and family worries after his parents separated.

    "Clay is going to be a big change," said the world number two, who lost his first career match on the Roland Garros clay five months ago.

    "But it's big motivation for me to finish the year winning. I have the opportunity to play well, to play good tennis on clay, and to win something important for my country."

    Stepanek and Berdych will have the advantage of having had several weeks of practice on that surface.Stepanek arrived after sessions in Florida and joined the team late. Berdych played a semi-final at his last event of the season three weeks ago in Paris.

    Stepanek was unimpressed by the fearsome reputation of Spain at home. "It's fifty-fifty - not a point less, nor a point more. Our spirits are very high. We beat tough nations including France, Argentina and Croatia to get to this final. We know it will be very tough, but we are ready to fight for three points."Spain hold a 3-2 lead in the series.



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