Nadal wins on his return to David Cup action

Rafael Nadal

Now world No.1 Nadal must beat world No.4 Alexander Zverev if Spain is to avoid defeat in the last eight.

A prowling Nadal came up with 21 winners and world number four Zverev racked up 57 unforced errors as the 16-time grand slam champion extended his winning run to a Davis Cup-record 24 matches.

He beat Kohlschreiber in straight sets on Friday after Zverev had overcome Ferrer.

Spain and Germany's tie was the only to go the distance, largely due to the surprising doubles win for Jan-Lennard Struff and Tim Puetz over Feliciano Lopez and Mark Lopez.

But Nadal kept up his end of the bargain on Sunday and the 36-year-old Ferrer showed all of his trademark never-say-die qualities to keep Spain's hopes of a sixth Davis Cup title alive.

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarterfinal match against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Germany team captain Michael Kohlmann said: "This is what the Davis Cup is all about".

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"I have always had great experiences in the Davis Cup and this is another opportunity".

On Saturday, France's Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will face Fognini and Simone Bolelli in the doubles.

Croatia, the 2005 champions, got off to a winning start against Kazakhstan in Varazdin when world No 3 Marin Cilic outclassed Dmitry Popko, the world No 258, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

Lucas Pouille fired the French ahead with a laboured 6-3 6-2 4-6 3-6 6-1 win over Andreas Seppi before home favourite Fabio Fognini redressed the balance with a 6-7 (6) 6-2 6-2 6-3 defeat of Jeremy Chardy.

Holder France was tied 1-1 with Italy in Genoa, and 2005 victor Croatia was also deadlocked against visitor Kazakhstan after a day of thrilling action on indoor red clay in Varazdin.

The United States could become the first team to seal their place in the semis later on Saturday if Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison beat Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in Nashville.

After 4 hours and 51 minutes of epic battle, Ferer prevailed 7-6 (1) 3-6 7-6 (4) 4-6 7-5 to earn one of his most vivid wins ever and send his country into the semi-final for the first time since 2012.

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