Rafael Nadal will not lead Spain in the second edition of the Davis Cup Finals at the end of the season, struggling with a foot injury and skipping the rest of the year. Rafa made a debut in the national squad 19 years ago in the junior Davis Cup event, and he made a professional debut for Spain in 2004, still at 17.
Nadal has always admired team competitions and the Olympic Games, winning multiple Davis Cup crowns with Spain and a couple of Olympic gold medals. In 2008, Nadal conquered the singles event in Beijing to claim the first Olympic gold medal and repeated that in the doubles with March Lopez eight years later in Rio de Janeiro.
It was the brightest moment of Nadal's mediocre season and the event that gave him a boost ahead of 2017 when he became world no. 1 and a Major winner again. Two years ago, Rafa led Spain in the first edition of the Davis Cup Finals staged in Madrid's Caja Magica.
Rafael Nadal played on a high level at the Davis Cup Finals two years ago.
Carried by the partisan crowd, Nadal stood as a true leader of the home squad, winning all eight matches and lifting the trophy with his teammates.
In the opening rubber against Russia, Rafa overpowered Karen Khachanov in the second singles match to keep his country alive before they claimed the doubles encounter and made a winning start. A day later, Nadal defeated Borna Gojo in singles and stepped on the court with Marcel Granollers in Spain's victory over Croatia that propelled the home nation into the quarters.
Rafa had no room for errors against Argentina in the quarters, toppling Diego Schwartzman and earning another triumph with Granollers to push Spain into the semis. Spain lost the opening rubber against Great Britain in the semi-final, and Nadal stepped in again to deliver two victories and move his country into the final clash against Canada.
Roberto Bautista Agut and Nadal toppled Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime to wrap up a perfect tournament and celebrate the trophy with their supporters in Caja Magica. "I love the Olympic Games; I had a great time in Rio in 2016.
Marc Lopez and I won the doubles gold medal, and that made it even better. I believe it is an amazing experience to be sharing the same place with all the other athletes from all different competitions. I enjoy very much playing the team competitions and love to play for my country. Competing at the Davis Cup Finals in front of the home fans in Madrid was also special," Rafael Nadal said.