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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 defending the title it achieved two years ago in Madrid.

In 2019, at the premiere of the disputed new format devised by Gerard Piqué and Kosmos Tennis, the Spanish team was crowned champion for the sixth time in its history, clinging to its number one, a Rafa Nadal who won all his points, and to the emotional point that Roberto Bautista achieved in the final against Canada, just days after his father died and left the concentration.

Spain defeated Russia, Croatia, Argentina, Great Britain and Canada, overcoming another obstacle that could involve playing on the covered hard court of the Caja Mágica, also supported by the effectiveness in the doubles modality, with which it unraveled in its favor all the playoffs less against Croats and Canadians.

There could be no title defense in 2020 because of the pandemic and it is now that the team that Sergi Bruguera continues to lead will have to do it, with much less favoritism than it could have in 2019 and with great difficulty already from the beginning.

To begin with, the double winner of Roland Garros will not be able to have Nadal this time, “the best player in the history of Davis”, as he himself recognized, to face a challenge that will now be at the Madrid Arena and that already in his The first group is very demanding due to the presence, again, of the Russians, rivals on Sunday and probably the most powerful team of the Finals that this time does come with Daniil Medvedev, number two in the world, to accompany Andrey Rublev, the five , Aslan Karatsev, 18, and Karen Kachanov, Olympic runner-up.

And just three days after debuting, Bruguera lost Roberto Bautista due to injury, replaced by Albert Ramos, which leaves Pablo Carreño as number one and as two and many options to have a high responsibility for the young debutante Carlos Alcaraz, who has raised a maximum expectation and whose current state of form awakens a lot of illusion.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, author of the decisive point that the first Davis gave to Spanish tennis and Murcia’s coach, can tell you first-hand what this competition means, where the forces are equal in many cases and where the public can give a plus. The ‘master’ of the ‘NextGen’ comes in shape after winning this title on a very similar track and after a season in which he has gone from 141st to 32nd in the world and in which he has been able to beat renowned rivals like Stefano Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini or Janik Sinner.

AN ‘ETERNAL’ CAPTAIN AND ANDRÉS GÓMEZ’S SON LEAD ECUADOR

Carreño must be at his side whoever plays the other individual. The Asturian is already quite an expert in this type of competition, where he has not managed to shine excessively, so he now hopes to improve his balance supported by tennis that led him to bronze in Tokyo 2020. For twice, Bruguera has a quite solid couple like the one formed by Marcel Granollers and veteran Feliciano López.

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.