November 25, 2019
Roberto Bautista Agut was the real hero as Spain lifted the Davis Cup on raucous home territory.
Sure, the irrepressible Rafael Nadal was highly instrumental in his nation’s deserved victory.
Indeed he sealed the deal in the second rubber against Canada, as you might expect.
We hailed Nadal after he led Spain to glory against Great Britain in the semi-final – and rightly so. The man is immense.
But we didn’t talk about the underlying motivations within the Spanish camp.
What really inspired Spain the most? Or rather who? Look no further than Bautista Agut.
He lost his mother last year. He lost his father during these Davis Cup finals. How tough was that? Still, he returned, mourning and hurting, to help his country win the trophy.
That is both intensely moving and extraordinarily strong when you think about it.
Despite his pain, Bautista Agut did what he thought his father would have wanted him to do.
But to carry out that sporting mission with such poise, under such an intense spotlight, is quite amazing.
Bautista Agut cried afterwards. Just saying simple things about how good it felt to be able to go back on court and try to give his best in the final.
To utter these words required willpower as he fought back the tears.
Above all, to be able to say how pleased he was to give Spain their first point against Canada. It brought on a tidal wave of emotion
What a remarkable man. Roberto Bautista Agut deserves a lot more credit and affection than he generally receives from the tennis public.
If you are going to Wimbledon 2020 and come across one of his matches, give him a little support.
Last summer Bautista Agut was one of the very first to entertain the Wimbledon crowds.
If you had entered the All England Club’s beautiful green grounds early on Wimbledon 2019’s first sunny day, you would already have seen Bautista Agut hard at work
There he was at about midday on Monday, almost unnoticed on an outside court, fighting ferociously to progress beyond round one. It was the start of quite a journey.
We have long been an admirer of the Spaniard here at WDH.
He is technically excellent and widely underrated. He is humble and engaging.
When Bautista Agut started doing well at Wimbledon last summer, we wrote that we wouldn’t be surprised if he reached the semi-final.
And he did.
Fast forward a few months and poor Roberto had suffered every young man’s worst nightmare.
When he was due to represent Spain at the Davis Cup, he had to leave the team and race to be with his dad.
Tragically, Roberto soon had to come to terms with losing his father forever. Family thoughts turned towards the funeral.
But Bautista Agut knew there was unfinished business in Madrid. His father would have wanted him to be there.
Naturally, he felt unable to play straight away, as he took in the dreadful news and began to mourn.
But he was courtside when Spain pipped Great Britain to a place in the final.
Nadal did Roberto proud. But few thought the win over GB would open the door to Bautista Agut’s starring role in the showpiece itself.
Anyone who has lost their father would understand how you can be torn between grief and the hope that you can honour him somehow.
Bautista Agut had the perfect opportunity to do just that when he played Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first match of the Davis Cup final.
The Spaniard won 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. And when he pointed to the sky in his triumphant moment, there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
His teammates hugged him instantly, delighted at the way he had responded in his worst moments of adversity.
In the next hour or two, Nadal was never going to do anything but make Roberto’s point count for something lasting and special
Rafa beat Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) to give Spain the victory most neutrals probably wanted if they knew what had happened to Roberto.
Well done Spain. Congratulations Rafael Nadal, you are always so strong.
But just this once, Rafa was surpassed by the mental strength of his teammate.
Roberto Bautista Agut, we salute you. And along with the rest of the tennis world, our thoughts remain with you during this difficult time.