SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Rafael Nadal gave Spain a 1-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final after cruising past Juan Monaco 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 Friday.
Nadal eased to victory on his favored clay surface at Olympic Stadium, breaking his Argentine opponent seven times.
Monaco held his first service game but Nadal took control by winning the next seven games. The six-time French Open champion dominated many of the long rallies.
"The best part of my game was I didn't make mistakes," said Nadal, who improved to 19-1 in singles play and 12-0 on clay. "The most important thing is we're up 1-0. We're confident David can make it 2-0."
In front of about 27,000 spectators including King Juan Carlos, Nadal looked nothing like the player who struggled in the ATP World Tour Finals in London last week when he admitted to feeling less passionate about the game.
Four-time champion Spain looks to take command of the best-of-five tie when David Ferrer faced Juan Martin del Potro in the second singles late Friday.
Monaco held his first serve with an ace, but struggled to hold back Nadal, who converted the first of 14 break chances with a forehand passing shot for a 2-1 lead.
"I was a little nervous at the start but after I broke him, I started playing well," said Nadal, who hasn't dropped a set in Davis Cup in over three years.
Nadal's impressive selection of winners — he hit 26 in all — kept Monaco off balance during many long rallies, with Nadal clinching the first set when Monaco netted a forehand.
Nadal enjoyed a remarkable fourth game in the second when the 10-time Grand Slam champ sprinted across the court repeatedly to keep balls in play before curling a backhand down the line for the point.
In the third set, King Juan Carlos out of his seat to applaud the fifth game. Monaco fell into the net to give Nadal a break chance, and the Argentine was again in the clay after a lengthy exchange that closed with a Nadal smash at the net for 3-2. Monaco had his left wrist taped along with a bloodied left knee.
Spain hasn't lost on clay for 22 ties, including a record 20 straight on home soil dating to 1999 as it vies for its third title in four years.
Argentina is attempting its first Davis Cup trophy in its fifth final.