Valencia (Spain) (AFP) - Rafael Nadal returns to competitive action in the Davis Cup on Friday for the first time since retiring from the Australian Open with a crippling hip injury in January.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner leads Spain into a home quarter-final against Germany in Valencia aiming to extend his remarkable 22-match winning streak in singles.
Nadal is taking part in the Davis Cup for the first time since 2016 and hitting his first ball in anger since hobbling out of the first Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne in the fifth set of a quarter-final against Marin Cilic.
"Physically, I felt good in the last few days," Nadal said at the draw on Thursday. "I hope to be well tomorrow."
He may be back at the top of the ATP rankings but Nadal is far from fully recovered from the hip problem which forced him to sit out the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.
He is using the Davis Cup to start his European campaign which he hopes will lead to an 11th French Open in June.
World number 33 David Ferrer will open the tie against Zverev on Friday, only a week after the pair met at the Miami Open. Zverev won that encounter 2-6 6-2 6-4.
"We must start very strong David and I because it can mark the future of the tie," Nadal said.
Spain v Germany Davis Cup quarter-final draw (all times GMT):
Friday (from 1200)
David Ferrer (ESP) v Alexander Zverev (GER)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
Saturday (from 1300)
Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez (ESP) v Tim Puetz/Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Sunday (from 1200)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Alexander Zverev (GER)
David Ferrer (ESP) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)