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Record-setter Nadal roars back, Italy holds France

Rafael Nadal returned to action with a 6-2 6-2 6-3 Davis Cup win over Germany’s Philip Kohlschreiber on Friday to set a record for the longest winning streak in the competition’s history.

World number one Nadal had not played since he retired from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January with a leg injury but made light work of Kohlschreiber to draw five-time winners Spain level at 1-1 in the tie.

The victory meant Nadal set the record for the longest Davis Cup winning streak in combined singles and doubles rubbers with 23 matches in a row.

Holders France has tied 1-1 with Italy in Genoa and 2005 winners Croatia have also deadlocked against visitors Kazakhstan after a day of thrilling action on indoor red clay in Varazdin.

The heavily-favored US team took a 2-0 lead against a depleted Belgium side on the indoor hard courts in Nashville to come within a point of their first Davis Cup semi-finals in six years.

Nadal was swiftly back in the swing of things in Valencia, dismantling Kohlschreiber after Alexander Zverev blew away David Ferrer 6-4 6-2 6-2 to put Germany in front.

The 31-year-old Nadal hardly put a foot wrong on his return, having produced 14 of his 30 winners in the opening set of a lopsided contest.

Kohlschreiber also went down tamely in the second before putting up more of a fight at the start of the third, but 16-time grand slam winner Nadal was relentless and wrapped up the match.

“It’s positive of course, winning in straight sets, it was a solid match. I feel comfortable back on the clay,” Nadal said on the Davis Cup website.

“It’s a great feeling to be back, coming back from injuries is always difficult, but it’s great to be in front of my crowd on a very memorable day. I’m very happy with the match.”

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