Pedro Luis Alonso
Thursday, 14 September 2023, 14:09
Spain's chances of making it to the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga this November are hanging by a thread. A 0-3 defeat to the Czech Republic on Wednesday means David Ferrer's team must beat Serbia on Friday to stand any chance of progressing.
In their opening match of the Finals Group Stage held in Valencia, Spain suffered an early setback. After a series of unforced errors, Bernabé Zapata lost 6-4 6-4 against Tomas Machac despite having moments to get back into the match.
In the subsequent match, Alejandro Davidovich faced Jiri Lehecka. The Malaga-born tennis star narrowly lost the first set after a challenging start but couldn't secure a win in the second set either, as the Czech player raised his level of play (7-6 7-5).
This was followed by the doubles encounter between Marcel Granollers and Davidovich against Lehecka and Adam Pavlásek. While defeat had already been sealed at this point, this match was nonetheless still important as it could have an impact on the overall standings. However, this resulted in defeat for Spain, too (7-5 6-7 (6-8) 4-6), leaving the six-time champions in a difficult position.
The Spanish Davis Cup team came into this week with several key absentees.
Davidovich, currently ranked 25th in the world, unexpectedly became the team's number one player after Carlos Alcaraz withdrew because of the muscle injury he picked up on the road to the semi-final of the US Open in which he was knocked out by Russian Daniil Medvedev on Saturday.
In addition to Alcaraz, the Spain team has also had cope with the absences of both Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreño, who are both outside the top 100 due to inactivity.
As a result, Albert Ramos, a 35-year-old veteran from Barcelona, was called up, meaning a rather depleted roster would be competing in Valencia: Davidovich, Ramos, Roberto Bautista (ranked 42nd despite being sidelined since mid-July), Bernabé Zapata (ranked 75th) and doubles specialist Marcel Granollers.
Spain was expected to have a relatively smooth path to the Finals in Malaga, but with these setbacks, their journey became more challenging.
After facing Serbia on Friday, they play South Korea in the final group game on Sunday, knowing that only the top two teams from each group will advance to the Final 8 to be held at Malaga’s Martín Carpena arena from 21 to 26 November.
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