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Rafa to the rescue: Nadal leads Spain to victory over Russia in Davis Cup

Rafa to the rescue: Nadal leads Spain to victory over Russia in Davis Cup
Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal led his squad to its first win in the revamped Davis Cup tournament, beating Russia 2-1 in their group stage encounter, to the delight of the home crowd in Madrid.

The world number 23 Andrey Rublev brought Russia hope to advance to the quarterfinals after he won a hard-fought victory over Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.

READ MORE: Flying start: Russia stun defending champions Croatia in Davis Cup opener

But it was the 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal who revived Spain’s chances to celebrate an overall win after he defeated Karen Khachanov in two sets 6-3, 7-6.

In the decisive doubles match, Khachanov and Rublev could offer nothing to their Spanish counterparts losing the game 6-4, 7-6, to give the hosts a 2-1 win.

The newly-established Davis Cup format divides 18 teams into six groups, with the group winners and two best-placed runners-up qualifying for the quarterfinals.

The winners of the Davis Cup, which now has a much shorter final format, will be crowned on Sunday, with the semifinals being scheduled for Saturday.

Earlier, Russia defeated defending Davis Cup champions Croatia 3-0.