A “team with many eggs”, in the definition of Feliciano López, was close to reaching the Davis Cup quarter-finals, but he died on the shore before the team with the highest ranking. A Russia with two top-ten that ended up getting (will play against Sweden) by winning the doubles (6-4, 2-6 and 6-4) and the series by 2-1. At 12:40 on a dramatic night with calculator in hand, Feliciano López and Marcel Granollers gave up. It was only worth winning or winning to be first in the group and defeat meant elimination. The champion, weighed down by the previous loss of Rafa Nadal and those of Roberto Bautista and Carlos Alcaraz on the horn is out. If he does not receive an invitation, he will have to play a tie in March 2022 to return to the finals.
Feliciano López, the magician of the five Davis Cups, was the one who made Spain dream at the Madrid Arena. The Toledo, at 40 years old and 104th in the world, knocked down Andrey Rublev with pride and class, fifth racket of the ATP, by 2-6, 6-3 and 6-4 in 1h: 45. A victory of faith that ajar the door to access rooms. But the subsequent defeat of Pablo Carreño in two sets against Daniil Medvedev by 6-2, 7-6 (3) left only one gap for Spain: winning the doubles.
The bleak tie began. With two breaks in the first quarter of Rublev, 24 years old and participant last week in the Masters at the same time that Feliciano was playing a challenger tournament. The public chanted the name of the Spaniard without much conviction …
Until he dragged them to believe. He connected them. His fine tennis at the net (“One of the best matches of my career, fast and agile,” he later recounted) began to flow. Although the first serves did not go in (50% at the end), with the first ones that went inside it was lethal (40/49) and with the second he managed to sign several aces. Break to 4-2 in the second. Fist to the chest. Rublev brooding on his demons. And set to the esportón.
Feliciano entered the first day due to the positive in COVID of Alcaraz and won clean, in two sets, to the Ecuadorian Quiroz. Later, he could not dispute the doubles due to a drop in glucose. But before Rublev he entered with her full. He lifted the Russian two break balls at 0-1 and snatched the serve from him in the next game. He had two match balls to the rest that did not materialize. But he was not scared. He loves Davis and Davis loves him. The Russian still had a break ball when he served to win. And he held out to win with an ace. With your DNA. “I had nothing to lose and Bruguera made me believe. At my 40 years, this is a gift,” he synthesized.
But Carreño, who had killed Medvedev in the Games where he was bronze, started badly against the second in the world. Medvedev went 5-0 in a snap. With 6-2 the atmosphere cooled down. The Asturian still rose proud with a break, but the US Open champion endorsed him another two. Carreño neutralized two match balls and achieved another break to take the sleeve to the tiebreaker. Medvedev did not shake: KO.
The roulette was all or nothing. Feliciano, the hero of the day and of so many days, came out again with Marcel Granollers (35 and 6th in pairs). They started well, plugged in, but the energy was slipping away before Rublev and Aslan Karatsev (17th), who sustained the Russian duo with their efficiency. The old guard did not crumple, but it was not enough. Goodbye to the Salad Bowl.