Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco will hope to put a combined six defeats at last week’s season-ending ATP event in London well behind them as the pair lead Spain into the weekend’s Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic.
With Spain’s two point men recovering during the last days after their ill-starred recent outings, the slate will be wiped clean as the tennis power aims to repeat the title it lifted a year ago over Argentina.
The weekend at the massive Palau Sant Jordi will be especially important to Nadal, who was unable to participate in Spain’s triumph last year as he rested sore knees.
But life in tennis has changed for the world number two, with his last title, in May in Rome, a distant memory and his game no longer the terror it was to opponents.
Spain will also feature David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez while the Czechs will field Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych along with Jan Hajek and doubles player Lukas Dlouhy.
The Davis Cup challenge is a huge matter of pride for Nadal.
“I’m ready to practise hard. I have motivation to play my best tennis. When you have this goal and you have this motivation, doesn’t matter if you are tired or not.
“I’m confident; I know it will be a difficult final. The change onto clay will be a big one and that’s always difficult in the beginning.”
The Czechs will be playing the final for the first time since Ivan Lendl inspired the then-Czechoslovakia to its lone title in 1980.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Stepanek. “Our country is again in the finals of the Davis Cup, and it’s a huge motivation, opportunity, to play for my country.
“I will get ready as best I can to help my team to win it.”
The indoor clay of the Sant Jordi is expected to draw Spanish fans in their thousands, all eager to see Nadal and Verdasco end their seasons with success.
“This is a big motivation for me, to finish the year winning,” said Nadal. “I have the opportunity to play well, to play good tennis on clay, and to win something important for my country and for the friends.
“Win together, that’s what we’re gonna try. I know it will be difficult. But we are confident. If we are playing well, we’re gonna have a good chance.”