Some of the best doubles specialists in tennis are set to appear at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals - and that may include Croatian team-mates Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
What is your first memory of Davis Cup?
Pavic: My first memory of Davis Cup? Probaby the first time I was in the Davis Cup and we have a little tradition about the new guy coming in the team, and I had to give a speech at the players’ dinner, my whole team wrote down some crazy stuff that I had to read in front of a big audience, so that was something that I still remember, something new and just the first time that I played was something special.
Mektic: Lucky for me, my first time, I had to do the same thing as him, I had to hold a speech, but he’s a little bit younger and the tradition before was that we can write our own speech, so I wasn’t embarrassing myself like he did!
What is your favourite Davis Cup memory?
Pavic: It must be for me the last year, the tie we played at home in Zagreb. I didn’t play for a couple of years in Davis Cup, so I came back after a few years, and just the feeling, playing in front of the home crowd, played a tough match and eventually we lost the match in five sets, but it was something special, very special feeling.
Mektic: I didn’t play in the last final that we won, but everything that was happening during and after the celebration, it was definitely special, but I also have to mention my first live match, when I first played a live match, it was really cool to play in front of a crowd and so many people supporting you, it was the first time that it happened to me.
What makes the Davis Cup special?
Pavic: Well, it’s something special. It’s tough, I would say it’s tough to describe the feeling you get because it’s completely different, especially from the whole year on tour where you play for yourself, with your partner. This is just something special and you play as a team, you play for somebody else also, so it’s tough to explain it, but it’s a very, very special feeling, especially to play certain matches in front of the home crowd, and hopefully in your home town, that’s of course something special.
Mektic: Yeah, I agree. It’s a little different. It’s funny how actually the whole atmosphere is kind of relaxed. You’re there with your friends, with the team, a lot of people, so you’re having fun, but then all of a sudden when the match comes you get so pumped, and like everybody, I don’t know, is taking that energy from you. It’s special.
Nikola Mektic: "We had a great support in France in the final last year, which was surprising for us. I hope they’re going to come again"
What do you expect from the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid?
Pavic: Well, I think it’s a great thing, we won it last year. It was a great result, a big thing for us, for Croatian tennis, for the whole country, so it’s a big thing that we are there again playing the Davis Cup Final, and then hopefully we’re going to have some good results.
Mektic: Yeah, I’m looking forward, if I’m in the team, I’m looking forward to see this new system and I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, a little bit different, and I’m excited about it.
And from the Croatian fans in Madrid?
Pavic: Well, I hope there’s going to be a lot of Croatian fans. We are in a group with Spain and we’re playing in Madrid, it won’t be that easy, but I hope a lot of people are going to come, and it’s going to be a big crowd, it’s something new, so we don’t know what to expect, but I hope it’s going to be good.
Mektic: We had a great support in France in the final, which was surprising for us, we didn’t expect that many Croatian people to come and cheer for us, but since we won, we have their sympathies right now. I hope they’re going to come again.
What is your favourite food in Spain?
Pavic: My favourite Spanish food, I like to eat tapas, a lot of tapas, I’ve been going every night to a tapas place. I lived here actually for two years, two and a half years, in Barcelona, so all the tapas <names> all that stuff, I like it, so I use every chance when I get back to Barcelona, Madrid, to go for some tapas.
Mektic: It’s actually only my second time in Spain, I was only once in Madrid last year, so I didn’t try that much, but I tried tapas and he’s taking me to dinner tonight so I hope he’s going to show me some good places.
And finally, complete this sentence. ‘If I win the Davis Cup, I will…’
Pavic: Get drunk.
Mektic: Get drunk more.
In November, join the Russian team at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals! Get your tickets here