Madrid: Rafael Nadal admitted he gave everything he had left to lead Spain to their sixth Davis Cup success on Sunday after they beat Canada in the final in Madrid.
Nadal’s 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) victory over Shapovalov confirmed another triumph for Spain after Roberto Bautista Agut had earlier seen off Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
All five of Spain’s squad played a part over the course of the week but Nadal’s colossal effort in front of the home fans at the Caja Magica proved the difference. The 33-year-old won eight out of eight rubbers, including two in the singles and doubles in a pulsating win over Britain on Saturday and then the decisive match that clinched the title against Shapovalov.
“I played one of the toughest possible opponents at the end of a long and difficult week, physically too because I put into this whole event all the energy that I had inside me,” said Nadal. “Honestly it’s the perfect end to the season for all of us. We know how difficult it is to win this and how difficult it will be to win it again. We knew we had to convert this opportunity.”
Feliciano Lopez, who played alongside Nadal during Spain’s doubles win against Britain’s Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski on Saturday, said Nadal had been a ‘super-hero’. “There are things you can’t describe with words,” said Lopez.
“The things he produced in doubles yesterday and then today against Shapovalov are things only Rafa can do. “If you ask me for my opinion, I will tell you he is a super-hero. He can do things none of us can do. He is a great person and an extraordinary tennis player.”
At the end of his win, Nadal hoisted up Bautista Agut, who had returned to the team after withdrawing on Thursday due to the death of his father Joaquin. “It was very difficult,” Bautista Agut said. “I took the decision to go home on Thursday morning and I was back yesterday (Saturday) afternoon to support the team. I had the opportunity to play Sunday because all the team and all the players and the rest of the team have made an unbelievable effort since the first day. It was an amazing feeling on the court.”
Canada were playing in their first ever final in the 119-year-old competition and with Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime, aged 20 and 19 respectively, their Davis Cup prospects look strong. “Tennis is really hot right now in Canada,'”said Canada’s team captain Frank Dancevic. “It’s really wonderful to see this young generation is playing so well. We have a really bright future ahead of us.”
“The Canadian team are amazing,” added Nadal. “Probably they are going to be one of those teams that will be almost unbeatable in the next couple of years.”