Sergi Bruguera, two-time champion of Roland-Garros, silver medal winner at the Atlanta '96 Olympic Games and former world number three, was named captain of the Spanish Davis Cup team in October 2017.
Spain won’t play with a traditional ‘home’ tie but you are playing at home, does that mean extra pressure for the team?
No. Playing at home is always much better, especially for the fans. However, before when you played at home you could choose the surface that you preferred, but now we'll be playing on a surface that is not our favourite.
In addition, the group that includes Spain is really strong... with Croatia, the champions, and Russia, who have immense potential...
This happens by forming the groups using the points that the teams have made in the Davis Cup. It can happen that the players who are world numbers one and two are both on the same team and so don't follow the seeding format. I think that this is something that should be changed so that it doesn't happen, so that there are not such strong groups.
Can you analyse Croatia a bit?
Croatia are the current champions. They have Cilic, who is one of the best indoor players and a great Davis Cup competitor as well, and then Coric, a very good second. And then they have terrific doubles, with many combinations; they have Cilic, Dodig, Pavic… it’s great... and now with the doubles, being only three points, it's much more important.
And what about Russia?
Well, Russia have great new players who are making themselves known. They have two players in the top ten: Medvedev, who is in a moment of spectacular performance, as well as KhachanovAnd then they have Rublev, another young phenomenon.
But you have Rafa Nadal and Roberto Bautista...
I have many players. It's always a problem to pick the team because in the end you always have to leave out players who are great and who would serve you for sure. Obviously, having Rafa for us is the most important thing.
"I have many players. It's always a problem to pick the team because in the end you always have to leave out players who are great and who would serve you for sure. Obviously, having Rafa for us is the most important thing."
The fact that you can now choose five players is an improvement...
Much better, much better. The more possibilities you have to choose from, the better, because sometimes you have to choose the team much earlier, when you are not yet fully prepared. Some players can arrive at a very good time and with five you have more options.
You have extensive experience, what can you contribute to the team in these Finals?
I can offer all the experience I have, everything I’ve lived as a player and as a coach, especially how to live with the pressure of the Davis Cup, which is one of the most difficult aspects of the competition.
How do you remember your own time at the Davis Cup?
Well, there were different stages. At first it was difficult and then, quite good. But I remember that I had to play away from home a lot. I think I played nine ties away and four at home. And at that time it was very different, winning away from home was practically impossible. They put us on grass or on a super fast surface that would now be banned... it was complicated for us.
What is your best memory of the Davis Cup?
The tie in Madrid against Italy, in which I won all three matches.
Do you suffer a lot when you are in the captain’s chair?
Yes, you suffer a lot when you’re not playing because, in quotes, you can’t do anything. You can help the players but in the end it's the player who's out there and not being able to participate actively in the match is hard.
Let's talk a little about the new format. What do you think of it?
I like it a lot. It’s a format that means you’ll see all the teams – the best in the world – in one week, all in the same place. On a spectator level, you’ll get some incredible games throughout the week, and I think the most important thing is that this format means that the best will always turn up. Before, there were lots of occasions when, because of the calendar, you’re playing in Miami, then you have to go to Australia to compete and then the next week you’re playing on clay... it was impossible. It's not that you don't want to, it was just not possible. This format takes away that pressure, leaving lots of possibilities for good players to play, which is important for the Davis Cup.