Nadal and Lopez seal 2-1 for Spain over Great Britain in thrilling doubles decider
Rafael Nadal and Feliciano Lopez carried Spain into the final of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals thanks to a 7-6(3), 7-6(8) triumph over Great Britain’s Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski in a deciding doubles clash on Saturday.
The Spaniards will take on Canada in Sunday’s final where they will be bidding for a sixth Davis Cup crown.
Teaming up for the first time since 2015, Nadal and Lopez overcame their British opponents in two hours 17 minutes, to secure Spain’s first Davis Cup final appearance since 2012.
“This competition is dramatic and with this new format even more,” said Nadal. “It was very close, we were not able to have not one break throughout the whole match, I think we played a great match. Feli served amazing and I think in the important moments he did everything well. We are super, super happy, has been an amazing and unforgettable evening for all of us. Just can say thank you very much to Feli, to the rest of the team because without them it is impossible and especially to the crowd that is always amazing here.”
Lopez added: “For me, personally, this is something that I will never expect, to be honest. I'm 38 years old. I'm playing the last years of my career probably. And honestly, I never thought that I will have the opportunity to play another Davis Cup Finals, first of all, in Madrid, and playing today, the deciding point with Rafa to be in the final.
"So I'm living a dream, to be honest. And this is the truth.”
In the first set, Spain had two break points on Skupski’s serve but the Brits saved both to hold for 2-2.
A great get from Murray and some positioning confusion between Nadal and Lopez saw the British side create a break point on the world No.1’s serve in the 11th game.
"I'm living a dream, to be honest. And this is the truth"
But Nadal found his serve when he needed it to escape. In the breaker, the Spanish duo led 6-3 and a Nadal backhand winner secured them the 64-minute set.
From 2-1 until the second-set tie-break, Murray and Skupski did not drop a single point on serve, as they continued to raise their level.
Nadal had to dig deep to save a set point on his serve en route to a hold for 6-6.
There was drama in the tie-break as Nadal and Lopez were denied a challenge by the umpire, who said they were too slow in their request. The Brits then claimed a mini-break and went up 6-4 to get two more set points. A heroic Nadal pulled off an impossible get to level for 6-all and saved a fourth set point with a huge forehand winner. The Mallorcan got a first match point for Spain with a service winner but Great Britain swatted it away. The Spaniards did not falter on their second opportunity though to storm into the final.
In singles, Nadal was in ruthless form against the 40th-ranked Daniel Evans, who put up an impressive fight in the opening set before succumbing 6-4, 6-0 in 85 minutes in front of a 12,500 capacity crowd at Caja Mágica’s Centre Court.
“Had been a tough first set, he played great, changing a lot the rhythm, playing very aggressive, then I played I think a great game on the return at 5-4 and after that I think I started to play with more freedom on the shots, less pressure, the ball started to go to the right spots, so I’m super happy for the victory,” said Nadal after recording his 28th consecutive Davis Cup singles victory.
The Spanish team welcomed the return of their world No.9 Roberto Bautista Agut, who was absent during their quarter-final tie due to the death of his father, but was back with his team-mates on Saturday.
"I just had to be really, really focused and concentrate on myself and I got off to a great start"
Earlier on Centre Court, Edmund was laser-focused during his 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over last-minute replacement Lopez, to give Great Britain a 1-0 advantage over Spain.
The 38-year-old Lopez stepped in for the injured Pablo Carreno Busta (left leg injury) right before the match and was contesting his first Davis Cup singles clash since 2016.
Edmund bagged his third singles win in as many matches, needing just 81 minutes to get the win over Lopez. The British world No.69 fired 19 forehand winners and nine aces against the Spaniard, who was playing just the 15th singles Davis Cup match of his career.
“When you start off the match in this situation, there’s just a lot of noise, obviously full house tonight, they’ve come here to support Feli. I just had to be really, really focused and concentrate on myself and I got off to a great start,” said Edmund, who thought he was going to be facing Carreno Busta up the last minute.
“As I said throughout this week my tennis hasn’t been the problem but when you come in different situations it can sometimes do funny things, so I just concentrated on my game, kept believing in my game, kept going after my strokes.