An earthquake shook the Davis Cup finals. Spain, before debuting this Friday against Ecuador (4:00 p.m., Let’s go) was hit today by COVID-19. Carlos Alcaraz, the great hope of the defenders of the title, tested positive for coronavirus and he will not be able to fight for the Salad Bowl at the Madrid Arena. A new stumble that added to the Roberto Bautista (19th) is dismissed due to an abdominal injury on Tuesday, who was already replaced by Albert Ramos in a team completed by Pablo Carreño, Feliciano López and Marcel Granollers.

The 18-year-old from Murcia was the burning nail of the National Team after a course in which he has exploded: 32nd in the world after starting 141st, debuted his record in Umag (Croatia), reached the US Open quarterfinals where he retired injured, lifted the NextGen Masters and his debut in the country competition was to be the culmination. Without Rafa Nadal, he was the light of Spain.

Alcaraz found himself “strange”, in the words of Miguel Díaz, president of the Spanish Federation, in the morning. The Murcian underwent a test, which was positive and he was isolated. A second test reconfirmed the disease and The entire team was confined to their concentration hotel to undergo PCR. At 9:00 p.m., more positives were discarded. The entire Spanish expedition is vaccinated (also Alcaraz), so they will not have to isolate themselves for ten days as established by the protocol by direct contact and they will be able to continue in competition.

It was Alcaraz himself, through Instagram, who revealed the infection. “I have tested positive for COVID-19, which will prevent me from playing the Davis Cup that I was so excited about”, wrote almost at the time that the organization and the Spanish Federation (RFET) announced the discovery of a case of “a member of the Spanish National Team.”

Alcaraz said that on Saturday, when he arrived in Madrid, he did “a PCR that was negative and every two days antigen tests, all negative.” “I was very excited to be able to play and represent my country here in Madrid in front of my people, but sometimes things don’t happen the way you want and you have to overcome. It is a very hard stick, but we will have to get up in the face of this situation and come out stronger ”. After winning the NextGen Masters on November 14 in Milan, the player returned to his home in El Palmar (Murcia) for a few days.

Sergi Bruguera rushed to call the Valencian Pedro Martínez Portero (24 years old and 60th in the ranking), who immediately traveled to Madrid. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) allows up to three team changes for COVID cases. “It was going to be Alcaraz’s debut, he was very excited and the public was also with him. It is a real fatality. It seems that we are gafados ”, lamented the president of the RFET. Recruiting more players is difficult. Alejandro Davidovich (22 years and 50º), for example, is away from Spain on vacation.

In addition, the ITF regulations (article of the code) do not allow Alcaraz to re-engage if he tests negative in the next few days: “The substituted player or players will not be allowed to play in any subsequent game in the week of the finals.”

Nadal, who is recovering from an injury to his left foot, had commented days before that Alcaraz would bring “energy” to the team. As soon as the news of the positive was known, he rushed to send encouragement to the team. “The most important thing is health,” recalled the Balearic.

The ITF established a strict protocol against COVID in all three venues (Madrid, Turin and Innsbruck, where it is played behind closed doors). Tennis players and the entire team around them live in bubble mode. A blow for Spain and a blow for the competition.