Bautista saves his commitment, but the defeats of Alcaraz and the doubles put the classification to Malaga on hold
It's not a drama, but this Friday Spain lost a golden opportunity to seal their qualification for the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga by losing to Canada (2-1). Roberto Bautista's victory in the first game put the fight very facetly for Sergi Bruguera's men, but the defeats of Carlos Alcaraz and the doubles team, made up of Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martínez, forced Spain to beat South Korea on the day on Sunday to be in November in the final phase of the tournament.
It was not a good day for Spain and that Bautista started in the best possible way. The player from Castellón, after a good performance against Serbia, was unleashed against Vasek Pospisil whom he had to overcome 3-6, 6-3 and 6-3 in more than two hours and a quarter of a game.
The Canadian, very comfortable on the indoor court in Valencia, always took the initiative with a serve that gave him eleven aces and a forehand and a backhand that produced a whopping 35 winners. Bautista had to keep a cool head, especially after giving up the first round, and based on a lot of work from the back of the track he managed to break the Canadian, who is much higher level than what his ranking says -he is 141 in the world-.
The victory, very important for Bautista to make up for the weak final part of the year on the cement courts, paved the way for Spain, which after beating Serbia 3-0 on the first day had a shot at certifying the first position in the group.
It was also the turn for the great star of Bruguera's team, Carlos Alcaraz who, after three days of training in Valencia, was ready to go out and compete. He did it with the inertia of the US Open and won a very tough first set against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the 'tie break' and after more than an hour of partial.
The effort had been titanic for a 19-year-old boy who a few days ago was fighting for his first Grand Slam on the other side of the world. And the physicist took its toll. Auger-Aliassime, who collapsed against South Korea on Wednesday, turned the score around and leveled the tie (6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2). Alcaraz ended up melted. “I have not reached 100% physically, as is normal,” explained the Murcian after the match.
The last bullet
The Spaniards still had a bullet left and to take advantage of it, Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martínez jumped onto the track, against Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime; Canada held nothing back.
The game began very placidly for the Spaniards, who broke the Canadians' serve in the first game and took the set without any surprises. They didn't give a chance with their serve. The Fuente de San Luis Pavilion, which had been filled since the Alcaraz duel, still contained enough people for the Spanish warmth to be felt and victory was close.
But the Spanish pair did not capitalize on either of the two break opportunities they had and when Canada had one, the set went to Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime. The alarms went off in Valencia and Granollers and Martínez deactivated it with an early 'break' and the possibility of closing the match and the tie with the service. There were nerves, missed opportunities and a break that brought Canada back to life and killed Spain. The last four games of the match went to the Americans, who sealed the victory 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Spain will have to play the classification to Malaga against South Korea next Sunday; It will only be worth beating the Koreans, a priori, the weakest in Group B of this Davis Cup.