Nadal could heap more pain on Uruguay

Justin Chadwick
A match with Rafael Nadal is looming for Uruguay in the ATP after their opening loss

World No.1 Rafael Nadal has the chance to heap more pain on veteran Pablo Cuevas when Spain take on Uruguay at the ATP Cup.

Nadal started his campaign with a 6-3 7-5 singles win over Georgia's world No.26 Nikoloz Basilashvili on Saturday, helping propel Spain to a 3-0 tie win.

The start of the new $22 million tournament wasn't so kind on world No.45 Pablo Cuevas, who suffered a humiliating 6-0 6-1 loss to world No.73 Yoshihito Nishioka.

Cuevas was left struggling for answers after that loss, and the 34-year-old will need a drastic change in fortunes to knock off Nadal.

But unlike many other players on the ATP tour, Cuevas has at least beaten Nadal before - in the semi-finals at the Rio Open in 2016.

Making that win even more impressive was the fact it was on Nadal's favoured surface clay.

Spain are on Monday expected to wipe the floor against Uruguay, whose already-thin squad was further depleted by a calf injury to Martin Cuevas, the younger brother of Pablo.

It means Uruguay are set to select 19-year-old Franco Roncadelli to battle against world No.9 Roberto Bautista Agut.

Roncadelli is so low in the pecking order that he currently doesn't even have a singles ranking, but Nadal insists Spain won't be taking anything for granted.

"We try to treat each tie with maximum respect for our opponents," Nadal said.

"We are in a phase of the group where each point counts a lot. We are going to play each match on its merits.

"We have maximum respect for all the players of Uruguay, knowing Pablo is a good player."

In other action on Monday, world No.2 Novak Djokovic will be in action when Serbia take on France in Brisbane.

Djokovic will take on world No.10 Gael Monfils in the marquee match of the day.

Monfils is yet to beat Djokovic in 15 attempts, with the most recent defeat a four-sets loss at the 2018 Australian Open.

Croatia and Poland will kick off the action in Sydney, with Austria and Argentina to face off at night.

That latter tie will see world No.4 Dominic Thiem go up ag against world No.14 Diego Schwartzman.

South Africa play Chile in Brisbane during the morning session, while Japan take on Georgia in Perth.