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Spain omit Verdasco for Davis singles

Spain, in red, will be seeking to defend their Davis Cup crown in the final against the Czech Republic.
Spain, in red, will be seeking to defend their Davis Cup crown in the final against the Czech Republic.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Defending champions Spain opt for David Ferrer instead of Fernando Verdasco
  • World No. 18 Ferrer will play Friday's second singles in Davis Cup final in Barcelona
  • He will take on Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek; Rafael Nadal plays Tomas Berdych
  • Czechs surprisingly decide against pairing Stepanek and Berdych in the doubles
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(CNN) -- Both team captains made surprise picks ahead of Friday's opening rubbers in the Davis Cup final between defending champions Spain and the Czech Republic on clay in Barcelona.

Spain's Alberto Costa decided against fielding world No. 9 Fernando Verdasco as his second singles player behind Rafael Nadal, instead opting for 18th-ranked David Ferrer.

World No. 2 Nadal, who will seek to end the season on a high after his disappointing early exit at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, will open proceedings against Tomas Berdych, while Ferrer takes on Czech No. 1 Radek Stepanek.

The visitors' captain Jaroslav Navratil also raised eyebrows when he decided not to list Stepanek or Berdych for Saturday's doubles, despite them being unbeaten as a partnership in three ties this season.

Instead he plumped to pair doubles specialist Lukas Dlouhy,with the little-known Jan Hajek against Feliciano Lopez and Verdasco.

However, the line-up can be changed at any time up until an hour before the match takes place.

"Well, I think they will change the doubles, but we have to respect these two other players," Costa told the official Davis Cup Web site. "They are very good also."

Nadal has a 5-3 winning record against Berdych, having triumphed in their past four meetings.

"Everybody talks about my hard week last week, but it wasn't a big surprise," he said. "I didn't arrive with the best confidence, on a difficult surface, against the best players of the world.

"So here I practiced hard and well during all the week. I am happy to be here and be part of this very good team. We practiced all the time, trying our best in every practice. I hope to be ready for tomorrow."