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Alcaraz, Djokovic banner DC squads

PARIS, France (AFP) — Rafael Nadal will sit out the group stage of the Davis Cup finals next month after not being named in the Spain team on Monday, while Novak Djokovic is set to lead group rivals Serbia.

The 36-year-old Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open titles earlier this year to take his men’s record tally of Grand Slam singles triumphs to 22.

But he was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon with an abdominal injury before his scheduled semifinal against Nick Kyrgios.

Nadal is making his return this week at the Cincinnati Masters as he prepares for the US Open, but will not make a first Davis Cup appearance since winning the tournament for the fifth time with Spain in 2019.

Spain will instead be looking to teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz for inspiration.

Sergi Bruguera’s team will face Serbia, Canada and South Korea in Group B which is being staged in Valencia from 13 to 18 September.

The 16-team event could mark the return to action for Djokovic, who has not played since winning a seventh Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam last month.

The Serb missed last week’s Montreal Masters over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and has pulled out of the US Open tune-up in Cincinnati for the same reason.

However, he still remains hopeful of competing in the year’s final major at Flushing Meadows.

Alexander Zverev will head up the Germany team as the world number two fights to be fit for the US Open starting 29 August.

Zverev underwent surgery after suffering torn ankle ligaments at the French Open. He will feature on home soil in Group C matches against France, Belgium and Australia in Hamburg.

Australia will be without the in-form Kyrgios, whose nine-match winning run ended in the Montreal quarter-finals.

The top two in each of the four groups will progress to the knock-out phase in Malaga in November.

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