The Spanish national tennis team, nicknamed La Armada, have their work cut out for them in the upcoming Davis Cup Finals, where they are going to play against Croatia in the quarter-final. The tournament will be held at Malaga's Martin Carpena sports arena between 22 and 27 November.
Spain's struggles will likely come from the change in the tournament format. The Davis Cup now regards the points won in the doubles match as more valuable, even though it accounts for a third of the points available in each tie.
The problem for La Armada comes from their lack of an established doubles pairing, with the team members excelling in singles they will have to maximise their points.
Spain's captain Sergi Bruguera could have had both the world number one and number two (Carlos Alcaraz and Rafa Nadal, respectively) on the team, but he will have to do without them. Nadal has passed on playing the Davis Cup since 2019 to focus on individual tournaments, while Alcaraz sustained an abdominal injury during the Paris Masters last week.
Bruguera had to settle for Pablo Carreño (ranked 13th) and Roberto Bautista (21st) being the top two ranked players, especially after Baustista's impressive performances in the group stages, where he clutched three singles wins. Carreño's high point of the year came with his Canadian Open win.
The third choice was Albert Ramos (39th), who is a clay court specialist and has hardly excelled on hard courts. He got the nod ahead of Alejandro Davidovich (32nd), who would have been the only local player in the whole tournament.
The fourth player is Marcel Granollers (ranked 13th in doubles), who has achieved doubles titles every year since 2009, except in 2013 and 2015. It's more than likely that he will play the doubles match, but who accompanies him is the remaining question.
If the tie against Croatia is won or lost after the singles, Granollers will probably pair up with Pedro Martínez (61st in singles and 74th in doubles). If the tie is 1-1, either Carreño or Bautista will accompany Granollers.
Spain's quarter-final tie against Croatia will get under way on Wednesday 23 November at 4pm, before going on to potentially face either Australia or the Netherlands in the semi-final on the Friday.