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Davis Cup finals offer passion rather than stars

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The Davis Cup Final will open at their final home, Malaga, Spain.

Of the eight people who took part in the ATP final, which ended in Turin on Sunday, only two will play – Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, world number six, and American Taylor Fritz, who took ninth place.

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The top two, Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, will not make the home team.

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World number one Alcaraz, who took the decisive singles point when Spain won their qualifying group in Valencia in September, was forced to miss the ATP final and the Davis Cup due to injuries.

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Nadal, who struggled with injury in the second half of the season and finished bottom of his ATP Finals group, left.

The remaining 11 best players in the world are from countries that did not make it into the last eight or, in the case of the current champions of Russia, were disqualified.

The final is held for the third time in one week. This formula was adopted after the International Tennis Federation partnered with the investment group Kosmos.

But if the first two editions started with 18 teams playing in six groups to determine the quarter-finalists, then this time the group stage was played in September and the final stage is only the last eight.

The condensed format meant that the two singles rubbers were cut, placing more emphasis on doubles finishing every tie.

“The doubles game has been modernized,” Germany captain Michael Kohlmann said on the website of the national tennis federation. “The audience is more interested in it, because even the supposedly worst teams can come up with a surprise.”

Three of the players who competed in the doubles final in Turin will be in Malaga.

Rajiv Ram, who partnered with Britain’s Joe Salisbury for the title, is on the American team. Ram was Jack Sock’s doubles partner in the final round. Lost ATP finalists Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic could pair up for Croatia in the decisive overlays.

The competition opens on Tuesday when the 28-time Australian champions face the Netherlands, who have never won the competition, in the first three-match quarter-final.

Croatia will play Spain on Wednesday, while Italy will play the United States, who have won 32 times, and Germany will play another country in pursuit of the first title, Canada on Thursday.

After two finals in Madrid, the location switches to Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena in the Mediterranean port of Malaga.

Spanish captain Sergi Brugera tried to play down the home advantage.

“Playing in the Davis Cup and in Spain, we will give our all, as always,” he told the website of the Spanish Tennis Federation.

He added: “The trial is very fast and does not benefit us. If the big servers are good, they have a big advantage that could be key.”

– ‘Unleash Great Powers’ –

Pablo Carreno-Busta will be the Spanish number one in the absence of Alcaraz and Nadal and is worried about Mektic and Pavić.

“Of course, I’d rather be Spanish number two or number three,” said the world number 13. “We are stronger with them.”

“Singles matches will be very even and could end either way,” Carreno Busta said. “In doubles, maybe they could be more favorites.”

With Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov finishing 18th, the Canadians are the only country to have two players from the top 20.

Germany will be left without number 12 Alexander Zverev, who was injured.

Nevertheless, Kohlmann does not think about defeat.

“None of us want to fly home right on Thursday,” he said. “The approach is that we don’t want to lose a single match.”

German veteran Jan-Lennard Struff added: “We are definitely underdogs in Malaga. But we don’t really need to hide.

“We already proved it last year at the final in Innsbruck, that this special energy that we have in our team can unleash great forces.”

Italy will be left without their top two, Matteo Berrettini and Yannick Sinner, but captain Filippo Volandri said on his federation’s website: “I’m sure we can handle these two losses: the guys will do their best and everyone will be ready.”



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