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30 January 2014

Bautista Agut to make debut appearance for Spain


MATCH REPORT

By John Bonney

Photo: Paul ZimmerRoberto Bautista Agut (ESP)

FRANKFURT, GERMANY: Roberto Bautista Agut faces a Davis Cup baptism of fire on Friday when he plays Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening singles of the World Group first round tie on Friday.

Former world No. 1 Carlos Moya, making his own debut as Spain's captain having been part of his country's winning team in 2004, has trusted world No. 52 Bautista Agut with the opening singles rubber at the Fraport Arena.

Bautista Agut, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating Argentine world No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro, was selected as Spain's second singles player ahead of the higher-ranked Fernando Verdasco.

In Friday's second singles Germany's in-form Florian Mayer will be up against left-hander Feliciano Lopez.

Veteran Tommy Haas, Germany's top-ranked player, returns to Davis Cup duty for only the second time in seven years and will play in Saturday's doubles with Daniel Brands against 2013 ATP World Tour Finals champions, David Marrero and Verdasco.

Spain, champions five times since 2000, were beaten in the first round last year and Bautista Agut will have the responsibility of giving the visitors a flying start.

Moya said he had no qualms about throwing the 25-year-old into the fray against the experienced Kohlschreiber who declared himself ready to go after withdrawing from the Australian Open with a hamstring injury.

"I trust Roberto, he has been playing very well lately," Moya said at Frankfurt City Hall after the draw.

"It's better he's first because usually when you play second you tend to be nervous waiting for your match but now he'll just go out there and just play his best tennis.

"He has to try to play the same way he does any week on Tour and he's been playing very well lately. Just don't worry about the crowd, try to enjoy. He is playing a player with a higher ranking, so the pressure is on Kohlschreiber."

Bautista Agut, who also reached the semi-finals in Auckland this year, looked relaxed as he turned his thoughts ahead to Friday's challenge.

"This is a new experience for me and I'm very happy," he said. "It's the perfect moment to play because I've been playing good this last month. Beating del Potro was one of my best victories, I won that in five and that's a good experience going into a Davis Cup match."

While Bautista Agut and Kohlschreiber have never played against each other before, the second rubber will be the sixth meeting between Mayer and Lopez with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head 3-2.

Lopez, who has a 4-7 singles record in Davis Cup, said Bautista Agut had earned his place in the team.

"We have made a great choice," he said. "It's the perfect situation for him. He has nothing to lose."

A Spain side featuring Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer would be clear favourites but without their top two players the tie, the 16th between the two nations, looks evenly balanced.

It could go right down to the wire on Sunday and German captain Carsten Arriens hinted that 35-year-old Haas, the world number 12, could feature in the reverse singles despite recent shoulder problems.

"I'm feeling confident," he said. "We had a little question mark over Tommy but having him here gives the team a little extra energy.

"I can feel that and that's good and it gives Spain a little pressure because all our players would have played by Saturday night and they will know that Tommy could play singles.

"It was not a tough decision, it was clear that Phil and Flo would start and the question was always would Tommy be ready for the Saturday doubles and then be an option for Sunday."

Germany, looking for a first title since 1993, lead Spain 9-6 in head-to-heads but have lost the last three.

The full draw is listed below:

Friday
R1: Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
R2: Florian Mayer (GER) v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)

Saturday
R3: Daniel Brands / Tommy Haas (GER) v David Marrero / Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

Sunday
R4: Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
R5: Florian Mayer (GER) v Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)

Captain Carsten Arriens (GER) - 30/01/2014

Tommy Haas (GER) - 30/01/2014

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) - 30/01/2014

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) - 30/01/2014

  • More photos

    • Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)Team Germany and Team Spain
    • Carlos Moya and Feliciano Lopez (ESP)Team Germany
    • Team SpainFernando Verdasco (ESP)
    • Team GermanyPhilipp Kohlschreiber (GER) and Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
    • Captain Carlos Moya (ESP) and Captain Carsten Arriens (GER)The draw ceremony in Frankfurt's town hall
     
 
 

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