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US looks to surprise favorite Spain in Davis Cup

Spain's David Ferrer returns a shot to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during a semifinal match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York. Ferrer lost the match.
Spain's David Ferrer returns a shot to Serbia's Novak Djokovic during a semifinal match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York. Ferrer lost the match.
Kathy Willens, Associated Press

GIJON, Spain — Even without Rafael Nadal, Spain presents a formidable challenge to the United States' bid to reach the Davis Cup final.

The defending champion welcomes the Americans having won the last two ties between the teams. Spain hasn't lost on clay, or on home soil, in 13 years.

While the U.S. has won its last four straight ties on clay, Spain has won 25 straight. Singles players David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro are a combined 21-1 on the surface, making Nadal's injury absence a minor issue for captain Alex Corretja.

Americans Jon Isner and Sam Querrey are a combined 6-7 on clay.

Almagro says "we're a slight favorite."