Davis Cup Finals: Rafael Nadal dethrones Croatia to send Spain into QF

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Davis Cup Finals: Rafael Nadal dethrones Croatia to send Spain into QF

The host nation Spain is through to the quarter-final at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, toppling the defending champions Croatia to enter the last eight. Without Marin Cilic and with Borna Coric who is far from his best and who couldn't play today, the Croats stood no chance this week in Madrid, losing to Russia in the first match and giving the title away after an expected loss to Spain.

In the first rubber, Roberto Bautista Agut recovered from that tight loss against Andrey Rublev, defeating Nikola Mektic 6-1, 6-3 in an hour for the seventh Davis Cup triumph. World no. 9 lost just nine points on serve, fending off the only break point he faced and securing four breaks to move over the top and put Spain in front.

Making the strongest possible start, Bautista Agut grabbed three straight breaks in the opener for a 6-1, barely losing a point behind the initial shot in set number two and stealing Mektic's serve at love in game two for a comfortable victory in no time at all.

In the second rubber, the crowd favorite and world no. 1 Rafael Nadal earned the 26th straight Davis Cup victory, beating Borna Gojo 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 25 minutes to propel Spain into the Friday's quarter-final. An 18-time Major champion lost only four points in his games, never facing a break point and converting three out of nine chances on the return to seize the 55th victory of the season.

A college tennis star had to dig deep right from the opening game, repelling three break chances to avoid an early setback and defending another one at 3-3 with a well-constructed attack. On the other hand, Rafa delivered one good hold after another, mounting the pressure on his rival and taking 12 of the last 13 points for a 6-4.

He grabbed a break at 15 in game nine and held at love a few minutes later thanks to a service winner for a 6-4 after 43 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two. There, Borna still couldn't do anything on the return, getting broken in the first game and once again at 3-5 to push Rafa over the top and Spain into the last eight.