(photo credit: AP)
Israel's almost impossible mission of beating Spain in Murcia in the Davis Cup semifinals next weekend got slightly easier on Friday after it was announced that Rafael Nadal will miss the tie through injury.
The world No. 3, who advanced to the semifinals of the US Open on Saturday, was forced to withdraw from the best-of-five series through an abdominal injury that has bothered him over the past two weeks in New York.
Despite Nadal's absence, Spain, which named Juan Carlos Ferrero (25) in the place of the six-time Grand Slam winner, will still be a massive favorite to advance to the final.
"Rafa is sad to have to take this decision, he was really motivated about this tie," captain Albert Costa said on the Spanish Tennis Federation's Web site. "But I understand his decision and hope he recovers as quickly as possible."
Nadal has missed the past two Davis Cup series for the defending champion since winning both of his singles matches in a 4-1 first round win over Serbia.
Ferrero, who was a member of Spain's winning Davis Cup teams in 2000 and 2004, clinched Spain's semifinal place with a victory in the deciding quarterfinal match against Germany in July.
"Even in complicated moments, like last Tuesday when I named the team and he wasn't among the four selected, Ferrero has always been an important player for us," Costa added.
Tommy Robredo (15), David Ferrer (19) and Feliciano Lopez (37) complete Spain's team.
The Israel team, which includes Dudi Sela (35), Harel Levy (138), Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, arrived in Murcia on Sunday to continue its preparations for the Rosh Hashana tie.
AP contributed to this report