Rafael Nadal, distraught at missing Spain's Davis Cup triumph over Argentina last year because of knee tendinitis, is already casting doubts over his participation in this year's final against the Czech Republic because of an abdominal injury he sustained during the US Open.
The problem caused him to miss his country's 4-1 semi-final victory over Israel last weekend and it is sufficiently serious for him to withdraw from the Thailand Open next week. The Davis Cup final does not start until December 4 but the former world No 1's medical history over the last 12 months is sufficiently concerning for Spain, who were also missing world No 9 Fernando Verdasco against Israel, to be preparing for his unavailability.
Nadal underwent an ultrasound scan after losing in the semi-finals of the US Open and it revealed an "acute rupture" of his right abdominal muscle. With both Davis Cup semi-finals being settled before Sunday's reverse singles, the main focus on the last day of the series of ties in the competition was on those making progress or going the opposite way in the international pecking order. Among the victorious were Switzerland, who were inspired by the world No 1, Roger Federer.
A major sufferer were Great Britain for whom Andy Murray, who briefly overtook Nadal as world No 2, was unable to play the role of a one-man team. Federer, who clinched his country's victory over Italy to earn qualification to the World Group, suggested he was running out of steam less than a week after being denied a sixth successive US Open title in a five-set marathon against Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro.
"I have to go on holiday badly," said Federer. "I have a problem with my leg, I have a problem with my arm - everything is hurting. But I am glad I could help us to win this important tie." Murray was also hurting during Britain's demotion to the third tier of world tennis after their 3-2 defeat by Poland. The young Scotsman suffered from a painful wrist but his country's failure to provide him with any support in the relegation battle hurt just as much. Two singles wins by Murray were not enough to prevent an embarrassing drop into the Euro-Africa Zone's group two for the first time since 1996.
Murray suggested that Britain may be better advised to try to regain their second-tier status without him and seek to bring through a new group of players. "We need to make sure the guys who come in are ready and experienced enough to deal with these sort of matches," he said. "Right now they aren't." Chile accompanied Switzerland into the top tier after withstanding a spirited fight-back by their Austrian visitors who recovered from the loss of both opening singles matches to draw level going into the final rubber.
It was left to the 2004 Olympic champion Nicolas Massu to secure his country's passage with a victory over Stefan Koubek in a thrilling decider that that lasted five hours and 15 minutes. email@example.com