Without Carlos Alcarazinjured, and without Rafael Nadaldosed, the Spanish team of Davis cup This Tuesday they will begin their participation in the final eight in Malaga against the worst possible rival, Croatia, which leads the ranking of the competition and was runner-up last year.
The team led by Sergi Bruguera will once again attack the pinnacle of world team tennis supported by the local fans -almost everything sold at Martín Carpena- and in a bunch of players who, despite the absence of the world numbers one and two, are able to win a new salad bowl, which would be the seventh for Spain.
Pablo Carreño (13 ATP), Roberto Bautista (21), Albert Ramos (39), Pedro Martínez (62) and Albert Granollers (17 in doubles) make up the team, predictably with the first two in charge of the individual matches and with a doubles pair that will form Granollers and another player already decided, but that Bruguera does not want to reveal until the last moment.
Carreño and Bautista were already champions in 2019, like the doubles player Marcel Granollers, who has three titles.
Opposite, Croatia arrives in the Andalusian city with a whole ‘Davis man’, Marin Cilic (17 ATP), nominated 27 times, along with the winner this year of the Cincinnati Masters 1000 Borna Coric (26), Borna Gojo (145) and one of the best doubles couples in the world, the one formed by Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic (5 and 8 in doubles), runners-up in the ATP finals last Sunday.
The Croats have won the salad bowl twice, the first in 2005 and the second in 2018, still with the home/away format, and they have played in three of the last five finals: 2016, 2018 and 2021. In the absence of the Russians by sanction, they can be unofficially considered the defending champions.
Three times out of three, Spain has defeated Croatia in the Davis Cup. The last precedent was already with the new format in the 2019 group stage played in Madrid, with a 3-0 Spanish victory, on the way to their sixth salad bowl.
Cilic has beaten Carreño in four of their five meetings, but lost in the last one, at the Tokyo Olympics. Roberto Bautista and Borna Coric are tied 4-4 in their previous meetings.
As for the doubles, even in the Spanish team they openly admit that the Croats are favourites. “They have played many matches together and the surface, fast and indoors, favors them,” Granollers told EFE, who however warned that most doubles matches “are decided by two or three points” and Spain will try this time to stay at home if the match is played.
Its premiere in this final phase It will coincide in day and time with the debut of the Spanish soccer team in Qatar 2022 against Costa Rica.
“A Davis Cup and in Spain you don’t see it every day,” warned Roberto Bautista to demand the presence of the fans at the Carpena.
“We would all like to see the Spain game and support them from a distance, but a Davis Cup is a very special event,” he insisted. “I’m sure the stadium will be full. With a tie as tough as the one in Croatia, we need everyone’s support,” said the Spanish number two.
The winning team of this tie will face Australia. Italy-United States and Germany-Canada, both on Thursday, will complete the quarterfinals.