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Record picture of Carlos Alcaraz.

Spain are set to start their identify defence on the Davis Cup Finals with out Rafael Nadal, and with all eyes at the teen touted as his inheritor. The 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz will probably be attracting consideration when Spain begins on Friday towards Ecuador. Spain need to triumph once more two years after successful the inaugural version of the made over international locations’ pageant.

The event wasn’t performed in 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Coming off a identify on the Subsequent Gen ATP Finals, Alcaraz will probably be making his first Davis Cup look along Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who’re each greater than 10 years older than him. Alcaraz wasn’t even born when any other member of Spain’s group, 40-year-old Feliciano López, started enjoying on excursion.

“For me it’s a dream come true to be here,” the No. 32 Alcaraz mentioned Wednesday. “I watched this tournament since I was a kid and I always wished to be here representing my country, so I’m really excited to be with the team.”

Nadal went undefeated in singles and doubles when Spain received the identify in 2019, however the 20-time Grand Slam champion is not enjoying this yr as a result of a left-foot damage that ended his season early.

“It’s true that we had a big advantage. If you have Nadal in your team you go straight to being the favourite because he is the best player in the history of the Davis Cup,” Spain captain Sergi Bruguera mentioned.

“He’s not here, we cannot think about this. We continue to have a very strong team. Four players were there in 2019 when we won so they are prepared for this, and now we have a new younger star who is bringing a lot of things to the team.”

Alcaraz is capping an excellent season that incorporated a quarterfinal look in the United States Open and victories over top-10 gamers Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.

“It’s very rare to see an 18-year-old kid behaving like he does on the court,” mentioned López, who has performed in 29 Davis Cup ties and debuted within the pageant in 2003, the yr Alcaraz used to be born.  “I haven’t seen many players like Carlos in the past.”

López used to be in Spain’s group again in 2018 when Alcaraz used to be a 14-year-old fan within the stands of a tie towards Germany in Valencia, hoping someday he may well be the only at the courtroom representing his nation.

“It was really amazing,” Alcaraz mentioned. “Since that moment I wished … to be in (that) position.”

Bruguera mentioned Alcaraz has helped convey new lifestyles to the group together with his nice personality.

“Carlos is an unbelievably nice guy, he’s very humble,” Bruguera mentioned.

“And he’s adjusting very well. He’s happy. The veterans are very good friends already and Carlos is like fresh air in the team. It’s nice.”

Spain are dealing with a troublesome activity seeking to retain the identify, regardless that, as the opposite group in Crew A is a Russian squad that includes two top-10 gamers in No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 5 Andrey Rublev. Additionally within the group is Olympic silver medalist Karen Khachanov and 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev.

Russia will probably be referred to as the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) all over the development amid an ongoing doping suspension from global sports activities.

“It’s the strongest team,” Bruguera mentioned. “It’s the most complete team, with Medvedev probably the most in-form player right now, so it will be our most difficult rival.”

Spain’s group took successful when No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut had to get replaced by means of No. 45 Ramos-Vinolas on the remaining minute as a result of an stomach damage.

The 18-team match used to be held completely in Madrid over seven days in 2019. This time, it is going to additionally happen in Innsbruck, Austria, and Turin, Italy. The contest used to be prolonged to 11 days after complaint from gamers and lovers over late-night fits in most commonly empty arenas and no longer sufficient relaxation between fits.

Every matchup on indoor laborious courts is a best-of-three sequence that includes two singles and one doubles fit. The six staff winners plus the 2 second-place groups with the most efficient data in response to units and video games will advance to the quarterfinals. 

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