MADRID Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Spain's team for next week's Davis Cup World Group semi-final against Israel because of stomach muscle problems and has been replaced by Juan Carlos Ferrero.
The injury has not prevented Nadal reaching the last eight at the U.S. Open, where he faces Chile's Fernando Gonzalez, but Spain captain Albert Costa said the world number three needed to take time out to recover after the final grand slam of the year.
"Rafa was sad at having to take this decision because he was really looking forward to the tie," Costa said on the Spanish tennis federation's website (www.rfet.es).
"I understand his decision and I hope he recovers as quickly as possible," he added.
Champions Spain are already without Fernando Verdasco for the three-day tie starting Friday but Ferrero, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez should still be too strong for surprise package Israel on the clay in Murcia.
Former world number one Ferrero has been in good form this year and has climbed back up the world rankings to number 25.
Spain, bidding for a seventh final appearance, have won their last 16 home ties and their last 18 on clay.
Croatia host Czech Republic in the other semi-final in Porec.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by John O'Brien)