* Costa faces tricky task in selecting Spain team
* Nadal, Verdasco should be back to fitness for final
By Iain Rogers
MADRID, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Spain’s Davis Cup captain Albert Costa has a difficult task ahead of him in whittling down the nation’s embarrassment of tennis riches to a team of four for December’s final against Czech Republic.
The defending champions sealed a comfortable win over Israel at the weekend despite the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco and the top-10 pair should be fit for the final as Spain seek a fourth title in 10 years.
“The decision is going to be very tough because I have six, seven, eight players that could make the team,” Costa said on Sunday after Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez led Spain to a 4-1 victory in Murcia.
“But they have to understand that those are the rules and I’m so happy to have these kinds of players for the final,” added the former French Open champion.
Davis Cup regulations mean that Spain will again have the advantage of playing at home, with the surface almost certain to be the clay on which they are undefeated in 19 ties.
While the Spanish have a deep pool of talent to choose from, with 12 players in the top 100, the Czechs rely on the two-man show of former top-10 players Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych, now ranked 17 and 18.
Costa said Spain had a lot of respect for the Czech pair and that Stepanek was particularly dangerous on the red dust.
“Stepanek is a player who is quite capable of beating the top players on clay,” he said, noting that he defeated world number one Roger Federer at the Rome Masters in 2008.
“Berdych commands a lot of respect and has some amazing shots and great talent,” he added. “If he is on his game he can beat anyone.”
Spain’s first of three Davis Cup triumphs came in 2000 when a team featuring both Costa and Ferrero overcame Lleyton Hewitt’s Australia in Barcelona.
They followed that up with wins in Seville in 2004 and Mar del Plata last year and Costa said the success in Barcelona had galvanised Spanish Davis Cup tennis.
“Before ourvictory in Barcelona in 2000 we had a different mentality and found it hard to play Davis Cup but it has changed radically since then,” he said.
“Now every time we play for Spain we seem to reach a higher level. This is extremely positive both for the players and the fans. We are attracting more and more support all the time.”
The venue for the final will be decided over the next couple of weeks after Costa and his players meet the Spanish tennis federation.
Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga and Las Palmas have all been touted as possible hosts.
The players now head off to compete in the indoor hardcourt season, which Costa said was not ideal preparation for the final.
“I would love to have the tournaments on clay now but the season is the season and the Spanish players don’t find it that difficult to change from hard courts to clay,” he said.
“I hope that everybody has some good results in the indoor season and we’ll see how it goes.”
Editing by Dave Thompson; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org