The crowd got to see the player they had come to see on Friday, on Saturday, as Rafael Nadal guided Spain back into the World Group of the Davis Cup by fashioning a doubles victory with Marc Lopez. The Spain duo beat the India pairing of Leander Paes and Saketh Myneni in four sets.
Having pulled out of the opening Davis Cup singles rubber on Friday, owing to a stomach bug or wrist problem – depending on who in the Spain camp you listen to – Nadal made sure he would give the Indian fans a chance to watch him in action in New Delhi by turning up for the doubles.
While doubles is not exactly the Spaniard's forte, there is little the left-hander cannot do. And after losing the first set, Nadal and Lopez fought back to clinch the match 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-4.
This was a match that Paes, looking to become the sole holder of most doubles wins in Davis Cup play with 44 – he is currently level with Nicola Pietrangeli on 43 – and Myneni had to win to keep India in the this World Group playoff rubber, and when they took the opening set, there were hopes of an upset.
However, with the crowd torn between cheering for Nadal and wanting their country to win and keep the tie alive, the Spaniards took control, clinching the crucial second set tiebreaker, which swerved the momentum their way.
After going up a set for the first time in the match, the break in the deciding set came when Paes was broken in the ninth game. With the match perfectly poised, Nadal showed why he is one of the all-time greats with a wonderful return on break point to give Spain the opportunity to serve for the match.
There was no mistake from Nadal, or Lopez, when it came to that particular aspect and Spain ensured they would return to the World Group, where the 14-time Grand Slam champion believes his team belong.
"For us it was a very important confrontation after two years being away from the World Group," Nadal said after the hard-fought win. "It's important for us to come back to where we think we have to be."
Nadal also admitted to being touched by the tremendous support received by him in India.
"The India team is a great team and I want to say many thanks to all the fans here in India," the nine-time French Open champion added. "For me it is a very special country and it is a place that is very close to my heart."