Tennis | Roberto Bautista Agut inspires Spain to Davis Cup

Spain have won their first Davis Cup since 2011.

Rafael Nadal ended Spain’s drought by beating Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-3 7-6 (7) in the tournament’s final in Madrid.

The world number one won all eight of his matches at the new-look tournament in Spain, and the 33-year-old was playing for the fourth successive day.

Nadal’s straight sets win over Shapavolav has secured Spain’s sixth Davis Cup, and their first in eight years.

However, it is Nadal’s compatriot and teammate Roberto Bautista Agut who stole the show and the hearts of the captive audience at the Caja Magica.

The 31-year-old – ranked ninth in the world – defeated Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (3) 6-3 in the first singles match to set the stage for Nadal to clinch the trophy.

Bautista Agut’s win over Auger-Aliassime comes just three days after the death of his father.

The Spaniard, who also lost his mother last May, rushed home on Thursday after his father Joaquin was taken seriously ill, with Joaquin pronounced dead that same day.

Bautista Agut was understandably expected to miss the rest of the tournament, but supported his teammates from the stand in Spain’s semi-final win over Great Britain on Saturday.

He then decided to participate in the final against Canada, a day after the funeral of his father, and defeated 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to put one hand on the Davis Cup.

A tearful Bautista Agut pointed to the sky after his victory, dedicating his triumph to Joaquin.

“It’s a dream day,” Agut said afterwards.

“It’s been an incredible week. Each player, obviously Rafa, has been incredible. Thank you for being here.”

Nadal, who has not lost a Davis Cup match since 2004, overcame his fatigue to see off the challenge of 20-year-old Shapovalov.

The Davis Cup triumph caps off a great year for the Spaniard, who has also won the French Open and US Open in 2019.

“I’ve won the eight matches but the person who was vital in this Davis Cup was Roberto,” Nadal said. 

“For me, what he did was something almost inhumane. I don’t know how to explain it. It will be an example for the rest of my life. He had to leave, then his dad died, then he came back and practiced with us yesterday, and today he was ready again to play at a very high level. It was something incredible.”