Rafa Nadal is putting his full focus into taking down Australia at the United Cup after withdrawing from Spain's mixed doubles clash with Great Britain on Sunday night. Australia and Spain were both eliminated from contention at the inaugural event after just one tie after GB completed a stunning upset over the Spaniards.
Dan Evans was the hero for the Brits after securing an unassailable 3-1 lead on Sunday with victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Cameron Norrie had shocked Nadal on Saturday before Katie Swan did a similar job on Nuria Parrizas-Dias.
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With Spain unable to beat the Brits after Evans' victory, Nadal decided to forfeit the mixed doubles and turn his attention to their next tie against Australia. The Aussies are already out of contention after their 3-2 loss to GB earlier in the tournament.
Following on from Nick Kyrgios' withdrawal on the eve of the United Cup, Australia's No.1 female player Ajla Tomljanovic also withdrew on Sunday. Tomljanovic had earlier withdrawn from her scheduled clash with Swan, and won't feature in Australia's tie with Spain either.
With only the top team in each of the six groups progressing to the next round, Spain is also out of contention. But their players will get some more match practice over the next two days against the Aussies in a dead tie.
Nadal will do battle with Alex de Minaur in a blockbuster showdown ahead of the Australian Open. The Spanish champion holds a 3-0 career lead over de Minaur, who is running out of opportunities to get one over the veteran who is in the twilight of his career.
"He's a great player. Playing super fast. Playing with very high intensity. Taking the ball very early. Improved the serve," Nadal said of the World No.24. "(It's) going to be another very tough match that I need to play very well in to have any chance. So let's see."
Maddison Inglis will take on Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the second rubber, before rank underdog Zoe Hives is slated to face World No.13 Paula Badosa. Jason Kubler, who took down Dan Evans in their first tie, is then meet scheduled to face Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Great Britain beat Spain in extraordinary scenes
The Brits still had some work to do on Sunday against Spain after Harriet Dart went down to Badosa 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (7-5) 1-6. World No.98 Dart pushed Badosa all the way, and at one stage was only two points from winning the match in a thrilling second set tiebreaker.
But the No.13 steeled herself when it mattered most and ran away with the third set to get Spain back in the tie. With Nadal waiting in the wings for a potential deciding fifth rubber, it all hinged on what Ramos-Vinolas could do against Evans.
The Spaniard roared to life in the second set and Evans looked on edge heading into the decider. But the World No.27 secured a vital break in the seventh game and ultimately served out the contest for a 6-3 1-6 6-3 win.
"I don't feel my strongest but I've got a great team behind me," Evans said. "It helps that it's not a regular tournament; it's tough to throw the towel in when you've got all that lot behind you."
With Spain eliminated from contention, Nadal and Badosa were replaced for the mixed doubles rubber. Fans took to social media to express their disappointment, with his withdrawal meaning Nadal has still never played a mixed doubles match at tour level.
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