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Nadal seals Davis Cup win after Bautista Agut battles to an emotional victory

 

Jubilant: Rafa Nadal
Jubilant: Rafa Nadal

By Eleanor Crooks

Rafael Nadal sealed Spain's first Davis Cup title since 2011 on home soil in Madrid but it was Roberto Bautista Agut who stole the show with an emotional victory just three days after the death of his father.

The world number nine thrust his finger skywards after beating Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (3) 6-3 and was in tears before addressing the crowd, who stood as one to cheer him.

That set the stage for Nadal, who had won all seven of his previous rubbers this week to ensure it was Spain who became the first winners of the new-look event, beating Denis Shapovalov 6-3 7-6 (7).

A thrilled Nadal said: "Amazing week, a lot of things we went through - the father of Roberto (Bautista Agut) passed away, a lot of things happened.

"I could not be happier. It has been an unforgettable moment in this amazing stadium, we can't thank the crowd enough. Our team spirit prevails."

Having played in Spain's first two ties at the Caja Magica, Bautista Agut rushed home on Thursday after his father Joaquin was taken seriously ill, with the Spanish federation announcing the same evening that he had died.

That was assumed to be the end of Bautista Agut's tournament but he supported from the stands during Saturday's tense semi-final victory over Great Britain and was brought back into the action for the opening rubber of the final.

Canada had used only two players in making it to their first-ever final, Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil performing heroics in singles and doubles.

But Pospisil was running on fumes against Russia in the semi-finals while their number two, 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime, was fully recovered from an ankle injury that had kept him sidelined for two months.

It was was only his second Davis Cup tie and perhaps, not surprisingly, Auger-Aliassime looked rusty, with his forehand breaking down far too often and double faults peppering his service games.

Bautista Agut, by contrast, maintained his composure right the way through to the winning moment, when emotion overcame him.

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