Tennis

Superhero Rafael Nadal leads Spain to Davis Cup and earns plaudits

World No.1 seals Spain's sixth Davis Cup title with his seventh win in four days

Feliciano Lopez praised an "amazing" Rafael Nadal after the world No. 1 sealed Spain's sixth Davis Cup title yesterday morning with another superhuman display at La Caja Magica.

Spain captain Sergi Brugera was forced to juggle his squad throughout an intense and gruelling week at the inaugural edition of the revamped team competition.

The 38-year-old Lopez, Roberto Bautista Agut, Marcel Granollers and Pablo Carreno Busta all got court time, but Nadal was the rock.

He won all eight of his matches without dropping his serve. His 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win over Canada's Denis Shapovalov clinched a 2-0 victory in the final.

It took his run of singles wins in the competition to an incredible 29 dating back to 2004.

His match against Shapovalov was his seventh in four days. In the last three nights he had played well past midnight, including a nerve-jangling doubles decider with Lopez against Britain in Saturday's semi-finals.

"I think especially Rafa playing singles and doubles almost every day, he's been our MVP this week," Lopez said.

"Of course, I want to give credit to all of us, but he's been amazing what he has done.

"There're things that only people like Rafa can do and, if you ask my opinion, I think he's a superhero."

With Spain's King Felipe amongst the 25,000 crowd yesterday, Nadal showed again the fight that has taken him to 19 Grand Slam titles.

The Mallorcan was also in the winning teams in 2009 and 2011, but this one marked a new chapter in the historic competition as it was the first to be played in the new format with 18 teams battling out over a gruelling seven days.

"I played one of the toughest possible opponents at the end of a long and difficult week, physically too because I put into this whole event all the energy that I had inside me," said Nadal.

"Honestly it's the perfect end to the season for all of us.

"We know how difficult it is to win this and how difficult it will be to win it again. We knew we had to convert this opportunity."

At the end of his win, Nadal hoisted up Bautista Agut, who had returned to the team after withdrawing on Thursday due to the death of his father Joaquin.

"It was very difficult," Bautista Agut said. "I took the decision to go home on Thursday morning and I was back yesterday (Saturday) afternoon to support the team.

"I had the opportunity to play today because all the team and all the players and the rest of the team have made an unbelievable effort since the first day.

"It was an amazing feeling on the court." - REUTERS

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