When he signs his victory against Alex de Miñaur, 4-6, 6-4 and 6-4 (in 2h 20m), Roberto Bautista ties a towel around his neck, hits a little run and gains momentum to take a little jump, as when thrashed in the lower categories of Villarreal.
It may seem like one more victory, but it is not because history had turned ugly with the absence at the last minute of Rafael Nadal , down due to some back discomfort, and because it means the decisive point for Spain in this first ATP crossing Cup against Australia, adorned with the final performance in the doubles.
With the 3-0, then, the team led by Pepe Vendrell caresses the semifinals on Friday, although on Thursday the other group duel against Greece is pending.
The day started with a start, with Nadal’s announcement on social networks: “I have decided not to play this first game due to a stiffness in my lower back. We have a strong team ”. The Spaniard did not have them all with him, cautious, and delegated to two praetorians such as Bautista and Pablo Carreño.
It was the Asturian who opened the series, and he did it breaking break by break to the rude John Millman (6-2 and 6-4, in 1h 17m) to put on track a day in which Nadal acted as coach , with permanent indications from the bench and encouraging his colleagues at all times, or gathering dates in the locker room to recharge their batteries.
“I knew I had to leave your place,” joked the Mallorcan as Carreño approached the saddle after beating Millman, an always demanding and complicated rival. The 29-year-old from Gijón and 16th in the world list, offered a magnificent level and resolved the first commitment with a control exhibition, watched live by the 4,000 people who occupied the stands of Melbourne Park’s central court.
Then Bautista would intervene, who ended up imposing on De Miñaur in a pulse that passed from pole to pole: the Castellón started off wrongly, but he rebuilt and drove his adversary crazy.
Tenacious as few others, Bautista gave up 5-1 at the start, running into energetic opposition from the young Australian. However, the Spaniard always exhibits the virtue of not fainting and despite the onslaught he kept his color, faithful to the dictation of his metronome.
Thus, he recovered ground and after a threat that was not far from turning the first set, he won the second and also inclined the third to the despair of De Miñaur, an intelligent tennis player, with good forms and physical potential that, however, is in missing final blows.
In this way, the team led by Vendrell in this second edition of the tournament – last year was led by Francis Roig, Nadal’s coach – resolved the premiere with authority, crowned with the triumph in the doubles (6-4 and 7-5 from Carreño and Marcel Granollers to John Peers and Luuk Saville).
By the way, he sent in parallel the message that he has a solid block, placing himself very close to the semifinals and with the aspiration of surpassing the 2020 record. A year ago, Spain lost in the final against Serbia, which also marked eastern territory Tuesday under the leadership of Novak Djokovic .
The number one intervened twice on this opening day. First, to compensate (double 7-5 to Denis Shapovalov) the defeat of his teammate Dusan Lajovic against Milos Raonic (6-3 and 6-4), and then to sign the victory in the doubles at the hand of Filip Krajinovic (7-5 and 7-6 to Raonic and Shapovalov).
In addition to the premiere of Spain in this competition, this Tuesday the day was peppered with other names. For example, the young Carlos Alcaraz, who progressed to the second round of the Great Ocean Road Open due to the withdrawal of Attila Balazs; It will be measured in the next with the Belgian David Goffin, first favorite of the table.
Also, this morning Garbiñe Muguruza came into action, implacable against Alyson van Uytvanck (6-2 and 6-0, 49 minutes) at the Yarra Valley Classic, another of the preparatory tournaments prior to the Australian Open that starts on the 8th in Melbourne .
As is known, Roger Federer will not attend the first major of the season . The 39-year-old Swiss, who underwent a double arthroscopy in his right knee last year, announced on December 28 that he still did not look fit to compete and that he would postpone his return a little longer than expected, taking into account in addition, the severe quarantine required for arrival in the country.
Now, his return has a date: from March 8 to 13 in Doha, a tournament he already won in 2005, 2006 and 2011. In this way, tennis is about to recover one of its great historical assets. Federer has not stepped on a track since January 30 last year , when Djokovic dismounted him from the Australian Open in the semifinals.