Rafael Nadal-Carlos Alcaraz dream shattered by Novak Djokovic’s Serbia

Shahida Jacobs
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal hugging
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal hugging

There will be no Rafael Nadal-Carlos Alcaraz dream team on home soil later this year after Spain were knocked out of the Davis Cup Finals by Novak Djokovic and Serbia.

Hosts Spain were robbed of a Nadal-Alcaraz partnership at the Davis Cup Finals group stage in Valencia this week as the former is still recovering from hip surgery while the latter withdrew from the team as he needed rest following a long North American hard-court season.

Both, though, were hoping to return for the Final 8 in Malaga in November with everyone in Spain talking about a “dream team” featuring 22-time Grand Slam Nadal and rising star Alcaraz.

Davis Cup Tournament Director Feliciano Lopez said: “I’ll be super happy because it will be a dream for David [Ferrer] as a captain and for us as a nation to see Carlos and Rafa together playing for Spain. It would be great.”

Although he did caution not to get carried away as Spain first had to get through the group stage.

Sadly for the host country their national team struggled in Nadal and Alcaraz’s absence as, after going down 3-0 against the Czech Republic in the opening rubber, they lost by the same margin against Serbia.

Albert Ramos Vinolas was beaten 6-4, 6-4 against Laslo Djere before Alejandro Davidovich Fokina lost 6-3, 6-4 against world No 1 Djokovic. Nikola Cacic and Miomir Kecmanovic then teamed up to beat Davidovich Fokina and Marcel Granollers 6-4, 7-6 (15-13) in the doubles.

Although Serbia lost their next encounter 3-0 against the Czech Republic, the two countries booked their places in the Final 8 in November.

Captain Ferrer admitted Spain were not good, but vowed not to get too downbeat.

“The balance is not positive, we lost all the matches,” he said. “However, I learned not to dramatise, I am proud of my team and I know that the boys tried. Accepting defeat is part of sport, it’s time to learn from the things we could have done better, next year we will start from the preliminary phase and there is no other choice.

“This moment hurts, especially for tennis players, I experienced it as a player and it always hurts to lose, even as a captain. Nothing will happen, tomorrow the sun will rise again.”

He added: “Looking to the future there is good news, we will recover important players.

“However, I am happy with the group I have, now the difficult thing is to face defeat and accept it. In the future we will remember this and smile about it.”

Spain reached the quarter-final last year before they were knocked out by Croatia. Their last title came in 2019 when a Nadal-inspired team defeated Canada 2-0 in the final in Madrid.

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