Without Rafael Nadal, it will not be easy for Spain to lift the second crown of the Davis Cup final, but they will do their best to prevail against the home crowd. Two years ago, Rafa led Spain in the first edition of the Davis Cup Finals played at the Caja Mágica in Madrid.
After a rock-solid season, Nadal remained a true home team leader, winning all eight matches and lifting the trophy with his teammates in huge celebration. In the opening match against Russia, Rafa beat Karen Khachanov in the second singles match to keep his country alive before they claimed the doubles match and started with victory.
A day later, Nadal defeated Borna Gojo in singles and stepped onto the pitch with Marcel Granollers in Spain's victory over Croatia that propelled the home nation to the quarterfinals. Rafa had no room for errors against Argentina in a quarterfinal battle, knocking down Diego Schwartzman and getting another win with Granollers to push Spain on.
Spain lost the opening tie against Great Britain in the semi-final, and Nadal stepped in again to score two victories and lead his country to the final clash against Canada. Roberto Bautista Agut and Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime to close out a perfect tournament and celebrate the trophy with their fans at Caja Mágica.
Verdasco speaks about Nadal
Fernando Verdasco recently said Rafael Nadal is the toughest opponent he has faced in his entire career, while joking about how dominant he has been at Roland Garros. Verdasco also talked about his matchup against Roger Federer, claiming that he wouldn't have had zero wins against the Swiss if he had played against him more often.
"I imagine this will depend a lot on who says it, others will say that Feliciano (Lopez) has more talent, others will say that Rafael Nadal," Verdasco said. "In Spain we have had the great luck of having several generations with brutal talent; if you listen to foreigners talking about us you will see that they tend to define us as gladiators, as physically tough guys."
But Verdasco believes that that last part is mainly down to the fact that he has played Federer too few times. "With Rafa, he is the one I played the most times (17-3), then Murray (13-4), then Novak (11-4) and finally Roger (7-0)," Verdasco said.
"I beat the first three at times, but with Federer I never could. The closest I got was at the London Masters, going 6-4, 4-4 and two break points, but those two balls slip away and there is no turning back. With Rafa I had to play 14 times until I beat him for the first time," he added. "Just as if I had played 14 times with Roger I would have won one."