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Lopez gives Spain 1-0 lead over India in Davis Cup

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New Delhi (AFP)

Feliciano Lopez claimed a four-set victory over India's Ramkumar Ramanathan to give Spain a 1-0 lead after the first singles match in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in New Delhi on Friday.

The left-handed Lopez, who took to the court in place of star player Rafael Nadal, completed a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win in two hours and 25 minutes.

World number four Nadal, who was slated to open the three-day contest, pulled out at the last moment due to a stomach infection.

However, the 26th-ranked Lopez did not disappoint with his strong serve and solid baseline play over the course of the match.

Lopez broke in the fifth game to go 3-2 up in the first set as he set the pace against an opponent who played his heart out in front of a raucous home crowd.

Lopez, who took the first set 6-4, broke in the very first game of the second set to unsettle Ramanathan at the RK Khanna Tennis Complex in the national capital.

The 34-year-old Lopez kept the momentum going in the second set with his excellent range of shots as he seemed unfazed by the hot and humid conditions.

The 21-year-old Ramanathan, 203rd in the ATP rankings, broke Lopez in the eighth game of the third set to gain a foothold in the contest.

But Lopez soon settled again and showcased his superiority in the final set of the match.

Spain's David Ferrer is scheduled to clash with Saketh Myneni in the second singles rubber of the day.

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