Spain have picked Rafael Nadal, the world No 2, in their team to face France in this month's Davis Cup semi-final as they bid for a third title in four years, Albert Costa, the non-playing captain, said yesterday.
The 25-year-old former No 1, who was absent for last year's 5-0 quarter-final loss to the French, will join regulars David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez for the September 16 to18 tie in Cordoba, Costa told a news conference.
As hosts, Spain have chosen to play the tie on their favoured red dust and, with clay king Nadal on board, Costa's team will be firm favourites to advance to December's final, where they would meet the champions Serbia or Argentina.
Nadal has missed several Davis Cup ties through injury in recent years, and the defending US Open champion had a scare on Sunday when he collapsed during his post-match news conference because of severe cramping in his right leg.
Spain and France have played each other seven times in the Davis Cup, with the Spaniards winning five of those ties.
Elsewhere, Roger Federer will lead Switzerland's mission to win promotion back to the World Group when his team tackle Australia in Sydney.
The deadline for player nominations is not until Tuesday, but the Swiss have already confirmed their team line-up for the play-off tie at the Royal Sydney Golf Club from September 16 to 18.
Severin Luthi, the Swiss captain, has announced a full strength squad that sees Federer named alongside Olympic gold medal-winning partner Stanislas Wawrinka, Stephane Bohli and Marco Chiudinelli.
Federer missed Switzerland's defeat to Kazakhstan in 2010 which spelt relegation, but a 5-0 victory over Portugal in July put them back into the play-offs.
Switzerland have never beaten Australia in four previous Davis Cup meetings.