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Round I loss a big blow: Alex

Madrid: Spain have found themselves in the unusual position of contemplating a Davis Cup playoff tie to secure their status in the elite World Group after the weakened top seeds were dumped out in the first round by Canada on Sunday.

Milos Raonic, the world No. 13, sealed Canada’s first passage to the quarter finals with victory against 82nd-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, drafted into the Spain side in the absence of Rafa Nadal, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro.

Nadal is returning from seven months out with a knee injury in Chile this week, while Ferrer and Almagro were unavailable after gruelling runs to the last four and last eight of last month’s Australian Open, respectively.

Spain captain Alex Corretja, in his second campaign in charge after inheriting a team that had won the Cup three times in five years and were losing finalists last year, said he respected the players’ desire to recuperate rather than add to their packed calendars.

“Players are on their own to decide if they want to play or want to rest,” Corretja said. “It’s not like we were underestimating Canada; not at all,” he added.

“Our players didn’t come because their calendars are very busy and they chose another option but we have no regrets about the ones who didn't come or the ones who were here. They were trying to do their best and for us it was a big blow to go out in the first round.”

Spain's defeat on the indoor hard court in Vancouver means they will have to wait until April's draw to discover their opponents for September’s playoff.

It is the first time they have lost in the first round since a defeat to Belarus in Minsk in February 2006 (Reuters)