US Open champ Nadal puts Spain on brink of victory
Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky during the World Group Play-offs 2013 at the Caja Magica sports complex in Madrid on September 14, 2013. Winning nations qualify for the World Group in 2014.
The world number two and new US Open champion returned to action less than four days after securing a second success at Flushing Meadows, and a 13th Grand Slam in total.
Yet he showed no signs of fatigue as he mastered his favourite clay surface and in so doing inflicted a humiliating defeat on the world 92nd ranked player who dumped Roger Federer out of Wimbledon in July.
Nadal reeled off the first 12 straight games before Stakhovsky finally held serve, and celebrated as if he'd won a Grand Slam final.
But his reprieve was brief as Nadal romped home for the loss of only four games.
Earlier, Fernando Verdasco had battled back from a set down to beat world number 40 Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to put Spain firmly in command.
Another player to dish out a tennis lesson was Britain's Andy Murray, who thumped 16-year-old Borna Coric 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 as Croatia and Britain finished the day tied at 1-1 in Umag.
The US Open junior champion initially caused Britain's world number three problems but from 3-3 in the first set, Murray won nine games in a row to take complete control.
The Scot was broken by the 525th ranked teenager at the start of the third set but he put together another run of five straight games to seal victory.
"I played ... to exhaust him since I knew it would be difficult for him to play senior tennis given that until yesterday he was in junior tennis," said the 26-year-old Wimbledon and Olympic champion.
"He is very talented and it was not easy to play against him."
However, his British teammate Daniel Evans was then well beaten 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 by Ivan Dodig as Croatia drew level.
In other play-off ties Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, fresh from his semi-final run at the US Open, made a flying start to his country's meeting against lowly Ecuador in Neuchatel.
World number 10 Wawrinka beat Emilio Gomez, ranked 340th, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.
Long overshadowed by Swiss icon Roger Federer, who is four years his senior, Wawrinka is now squarely in the limelight thanks to a run of solid performances.
World number 164 Marco Chiudinelli then made it 2-0 for Switzerland with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win over Julio Cesar Campozano, 295th in the ATP rankings.
Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer put Germany in control of their clash with Brazil.
Kohlschreiber beat Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 while Mayer coasted to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 success against Tomaz Bellucci.
In a match that started Thursday, Israel went 2-1 up on Belgium after Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram beat Steve Darcis and Olivier Rochus 6-3, 5-7, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the doubles.
The Netherlands took a 2-0 lead over Austria as Robin Haase beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, and Thiemo de Bakker defeated Jurgen Melzer 5-7, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.