You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Nadal, grieving Bautista Agut lead Spain to Davis Cup title

Associated Press logo Associated Press 11/24/2019 By TALES AZZONI
a group of people wearing costumes: Spain's Rafael Nadal, foreground, takes a selfie with fellow players and team staff posing with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) © APWF Spain's Rafael Nadal, foreground, takes a selfie with fellow players and team staff posing with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

MADRID (AP) Rafael Nadal gave all he had on the Caja Magica center court in Madrid.

The top-ranked Spanish star even admitted he risked getting injured by playing eight matches - five singles, three doubles - in six days at the Davis Cup Finals, the new World Cup of tennis.

Nadal won all of them, leading Spain to its sixth Davis Cup title after a 2-0 win over first-time finalist Canada on Sunday.

But in Nadal's view, the only hero for Spain was grieving teammate Roberto Bautista Agut. He sent Spain on its way to victory by winning the first singles match on Sunday, three days after the death of his father.

''I've won the eight matches but the person who was vital in this Davis Cup was Roberto,'' Nadal said. ''For me, what he did was something almost inhumane. I don't know how to explain it. It will be an example for the rest of my life. He had to leave, then his dad died, then he came back and practiced with us yesterday, and today he was ready again to play at a very high level. It was something incredible.''

a group of people posing for the camera: Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut lifts the trophy as the Spanish team poses after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) © APWF Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut lifts the trophy as the Spanish team poses after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Before Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (7) to clinch the title - Spain's first since also winning at home in 2011 - Bautista Agut had given Spain a 1-0 lead by beating Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Rafael Nadal et al. around each other: The Spanish team poses with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) © APWF The Spanish team poses with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Bautista Agut pointed his finger to the sky after winning the final point in his match, and was in tears while speaking briefly to the crowd, which chanted his name. And he was the Spanish player lifting the cup in the title celebrations.

Bautista Agut's father died on Thursday - a day after his son had defeated Nikola Mektic of Croatia - with his health deteriorating quickly after an illness that stemmed from a 2016 accident.

The 31-year-old Bautista Agut, No. 9 in the world, played as teammates Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers nursed injuries entering the final.

As for Nadal, he considered himself lucky to be able to play all matches.

''It's true that I held up, but we know that playing so many matches in this (hard court) surface is risky for me, something can happen at any time,'' Nadal said. ''That's how it's been in the past, but luckily I held up.''

a group of people wearing costumes: The Spanish team poses with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) © APWF The Spanish team poses with the trophy after Spain defeated Canada 2-0 to win the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Spain's Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez had been scheduled to face Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil in the now canceled doubles, although Nadal was likely to play if the title had been at stake. Nadal played in the decisive doubles on Friday and Saturday.

Voted the tournament's best player, Nadal sealed the title with his 29th straight Davis Cup singles win, igniting the home crowd's celebrations.

Tournament organizer and Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, his wife Shakira - who performed in the closing ceremony - and Spanish King Felipe VI were among those celebrating Spain's triumph.

Spain's other Davis Cup titles were in 2000, '04, '08, '09 and '11.

Canada was seeking its first Davis Cup title since debuting in the competition in 1913.

The Canadians eliminated Italy and the United States in the group stage, and Australia and Russia in the knockout rounds.

The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime lost to Bautista Agut while making his debut in this year's tournament. He was coming off an ankle injury that had seen him sidelined through the group stage and the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Canada came to Madrid without Milos Raonic because of a back injury. Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil were the only players who had competed until Sunday.

The new Davis Cup Finals is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the Kosmos group co-founded by Pique.

---

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

---

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

a person hitting a ball with a racket: Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime hits a forehand to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during their tennis singles match of the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime hits a forehand to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during their tennis singles match of the Davis Cup final in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
© APWF
AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon