The second-ranked Nadal overcame a terrible start to beat Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (0) on Sunday to clinch Spain’s third David Cup title in four years.
Nadal’s first title since winning his sixth French Open in June followed a run of below-par performances in which he acknowledged feeling less passionate about the sport as another long season took its toll.
This victory gave Spain a 3-1 series lead, good enough for the country’s fifth Davis Cup title overall.
Nadal showed flashes of that poor end-of-season run, but eventually settled into his usual dominant groove on clay.
Del Potro also committed 64 unforced errors as Nadal earned his 20th consecutive victory since debuting in the competition in 2004 with a loss.
“I’ve never had the chance to secure the winning point of a Davis Cup. In the end it came down to me,” said Nadal, who ensured Argentina remained the only nation to play in four finals without a victory.
Teammates Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco and captain Albert Costa were among those who enveloped Nadal after he dropped to the ground in celebration, while del Potro exited the arena in tears.
It was the third Davis Cup trophy for Nadal, who secured a point in the win over the United States as a teenager at the same Olympic Stadium in the 2004 final.
“It’s a special feeling since you’re playing at home in the last event of the year and it’s to win the Davis Cup and all of the emotion and happiness that comes with being on the court,” said Nadal, who missed the quarterfinal win in the United States before returning in the semifinals against France.
“It’s going to be impossible to repeat.”
Nadal says he won’t play in the event next year and will instead focus on defending his gold medal at the London Olympics.
Nadal, who won gold in Beijing in 2008, says the 2012 Davis Cup is “impossible with it being an Olympic year.”
The Olympic tennis event will be on grass at the All England Club, the site of Nadal’s two Wimbledon titles.
The second-ranked Nadal says he still expects Spain to remain a Davis Cup title contender next year.