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MADRID, 25 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) –

Spain will begin its journey in the Davis Cup Finals this Friday with a first duel that is key to its aspirations to overcome the group stage against Ecuador, the first rival in the defense of the title that it achieved two years ago in Madrid and that comes in a complicated and unexpected emotional moment after losing Roberto Bautista and Carlos Alcaraz.

The current champion seems to be winded to try to get as far as possible in the team competition and the last stone in his path less than 24 hours after his debut at the Madrid Arena, the new stage in the capital, has been positive for Carlos Alcaraz’s coronavirus, designated as the great hope despite not having played a game in this tournament yet.

First was the loss of Rafa Nadal, “the best player in the history of Davis” for captain Sergi Bruguera, although this was announced well in advance. However, on Tuesday, the Catalan lost his number one theoretician, Roberto Bautista, due to an abdominal injury, which increased the chances that the 18-year-old from Murcia could make his debut, who arrived at a great moment after crowning himself ‘teacher’ of the ‘NextGen’.

But he will not have the opportunity to do so this time due to the coronavirus, which further reduces the options of a team that was crowned champion for the sixth time in its history and at the premiere of the new format devised by Gerard Piqué and Kosmos in 2019. Then, he also had to overcome difficult moments such as the injury of Pablo Carreño and the departure of Roberto Bautista due to the death of his father, although the Castellón returned to win an emotional point in the final against Canada.

He also overcame the fact of playing on a theoretically adverse surface, such as the fast track on an indoor track, but he managed to rebuild himself, clinging to the effort and leadership of Nadal, who won all his points, including those of the doubles who decided three of the five heats.

Now, Bruguera will have to play with fewer cards, although he still has left to form a good hand that knows how to compete. There is Pablo Carreño, already more expert in team competitions, and who hopes to have the tennis and the spirit that led him to get the Olympic bronze in Tokyo.

In addition, the captain also has a fairly strong double with a fairly solid pair like Marcel Granollers and veteran Feliciano López. The Toledo, from his experience, could be number two in singles, while Albert Ramos and Pedro Martínez, substitutes for Bautista and Alcaraz, are almost newcomers. Nor should we forget that Spain will have the warmth of the public, always key to giving that extra bonus, more necessary now than ever.

ECUADOR, FIRST RIVAL BEFORE RUSSIA’S EXAM

The first step towards the defense of the title is presumably the one that is presented as the most ‘simple’ although without margin of error, since Ecuador will face, one of the surprises in these Finals and 24 of the Davis Cup ranking, which took his ticket after winning a Japan without Kei Nishikori, but playing at home.

The team of Raúl Viver, eternal Ecuadorian captain since 1993, does not have in its ranks any component in the ‘Top 100’ and its best player is Emilio Gómez, 149th in the world and son of Andrés Gómez, Roland Garros champion in 1990 against Andre Agassi. Roberto Quiroz (291), Diego Hidalgo (591), Antonio Cayetano March (701) and Gonzalo Escobar (39 in the world in doubles) complete a quintet whose main weapon is the total absence of pressure.

Spain starts as a favorite despite all the problems and will try to get rid of the Ecuadorian team in the fast lane and yielding as little as possible and then face on Sunday with a Russia that is indicated by many as one of the great favorites.

Shamil Tarpischev’s men fell in 2019 in the group stage by a tight 2-1 and then were semifinalists, but this time they do come with Daniil Medvedev, world number two and in great shape, to accompany Andrey Rublev, number five, Aslan Karatsev, 18, and Karen Kachanov, Olympic runner-up.