Madrid: World number five David Ferrer will lead Spain's bid to claim their fourth Davis Cup title in five years when the holders take on the Czech Republic in this month's final in Prague. Fourth-ranked Rafa Nadal is still sidelined with a knee injury so Ferrer, winner of Sunday's Paris Masters, will spearhead a team that includes Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.
"Ferrer's leadership has been important in Nadal's absence despite him saying at the start of the year he was not planning to play," captain Alex Corretja told a news conference on Monday. "He has accepted the challenge and now we are in the final."
Ferrer, 30, won his first Masters tournament on Sunday as he took his haul of titles this season to a personal best of seven. He is about to make his fourth appearance in a Davis Cup final. Nadal has not played since his shock second-round defeat by Czech Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.
The Spanish team have managed well without the 26-year-old, beating Kazakhstan, Austria and the United States. The Czechs, who overcame Italy, Serbia and Argentina, have a poor record against Spain and were demolished 5-0 by them in the 2009 final. Corretja, however, said the hosts would be the favourites to win on an indoor hardcourt from November 16-18.
"We believe they are going to lay a very fast surface," he explained. "We know it will be tough and that we are not favourites."