PARIS (AFP) – Rafael Nadal showed no hint of a US Open hangover as he crushed Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-0, 6-0, 6-4 to put Spain 2-0 up on Ukraine in their Davis Cup World Group play-off in Madrid on Friday.
The world number two and new US Open champion returned to action less than four days after securing a second success at Flushing Meadows, and a 13th Grand Slam in total.
Yet he showed no signs of fatigue as he mastered his favourite clay surface and in so doing inflicted a humiliating defeat on the world 92nd ranked player who dumped Roger Federer out of Wimbledon in July.
"It is a positive moment and a very special year for me, arguably the best," Nadal said.
"I have played in 11 finals and won 10 tournaments so I can't ask for more.
"I feel comfortable, I feel like I am playing well but from experience I know they are moments that come and go and I have to enjoy them."
Earlier, Fernando Verdasco had battled back from a set down to beat world number 40 Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to put Spain firmly in command.
And such is Nadal's desire to kill the tie off that he has chosen to pair up with Marc Lopez for Saturday's doubles clash.
"I am here to try and help the team. Once I have made the effort to come here, to play the doubles is only a small extra effort.
"Hopefully we can finish the match tomorrow and then I can rest on Sunday."
Another player to dish out a tennis lesson was Britain's Andy Murray, who thumped 16-year-old Borna Coric 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 as Croatia and Britain finished the day tied at 1-1 in Umag.
The US Open junior champion initially caused Britain's world number three problems but from 3-3 in the first set, Murray won nine games in a row to take complete control.
"I played ... to exhaust him since I knew it would be difficult for him to play senior tennis given that until yesterday he was in junior tennis," said the 26-year-old Wimbledon and Olympic champion.
"He is very talented and it was not easy to play against him."
However, his British teammate Daniel Evans was then well beaten 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 by Ivan Dodig as Croatia drew level.
In other play-off ties, Australia took a decisive 2-0 lead over Poland in Warsaw as Lleyton Hewitt romped past Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and Bernard Tomic followed up with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 victory over Michal Przysiezny.
Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, fresh from his semi-final run at the US Open, made a flying start to his country's meeting against lowly Ecuador in Neuchatel.
World number 10 Wawrinka beat Emilio Gomez, ranked 340th, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.
Long overshadowed by Swiss icon Roger Federer, who is four years his senior, Wawrinka is now squarely in the limelight thanks to a run of solid performances.
World number 164 Marco Chiudinelli then made it 2-0 for Switzerland with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win over Julio Cesar Campozano, 295th in the ATP rankings.
Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer put Germany in control of their clash with Brazil.
Kohlschreiber beat Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 while Mayer coasted to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 success against Tomaz Bellucci.
In a match that started Thursday, Israel went 2-1 up on Belgium after Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram beat Steve Darcis and Olivier Rochus 6-3, 5-7, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the doubles.
The Netherlands took a 2-0 lead over Austria as Robin Haase beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-3, 6-1, and Thiemo de Bakker defeated Jurgen Melzer 5-7, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.