Few matches could help boost the new Davis Cup format in Spain, such as the one that will take place on Friday at the Magic Box (5:30 pm) in the quarterfinals between the hosts and Argentina. The albiceleste certified his pass this Thursday as one of the best seconds after Germany's victory against Chile, already out of competition. The weight of the competitive duel between the five-time winners of the tournament and the champions in 2016 adds an atmosphere for sure with the essence that has always distinguished this tournament.

Spain has emerged unscathed from the group stage, based on Rafael Nadal , winner in the two individual matches and in the unexpected participation with Marcel Granollers in the already irrelevant doubles match against Croatia. More doubtful, the Argentina that captains the ineffable Gastón Gaudio , solved Chile with solvency, but fell against Germany, losing in a dramatic doubles match the opportunity to have secured his pass.

The loss of Roberto Bautista , who left the concentration on Thursday for the death of his father, weakens those of Sergi Bruguera , favorites, however, against a team whose best man is Diego Schwartzman , fourteenth in the world. The little one , as he is known for his scarce 1.70 meters, the smallest stature in the top 100, leads a group completed by Guido Pella , 25th, Leonardo Mayer and Máximo González , the latter reserved for the doubles match. It will be Schwartzman in charge of facing Nadal in the second game, in a duel with an estimated circuit tour. Nadal has won his eight games against him, with the quarterfinals of the last US Open (6-4, 7-5 and 6-2) as the closest precedent. However, Schwartzman usually completes good performances against the Spaniard, who took a set in the Roland Garros quarters of 2018 and in the eighths of Australia of the same year.

Two champions in Argentina

Argentina has two of the men who made up the 2016 championship team. Leonardo Mayer and Guido Pella were in the historic formation in which the greatest role corresponded to Juan Martín del Potro and Federico Delbonis , in charge of adding the fifth point in Zagreb. Unlike past periods, the team is now safe from the harmful fight of egos, from a cainism that seriously damaged one of the countries with more talent and tradition in this sport.

Nor is this authentic Davis classic missing history. Spain has won two of its five titles with Argentina as an opponent in the final. He did it in 2008, in Mar del Plata, without Nadal and with Emilio Sánchez as captain, and he did it again two years later, in Seville. Further back are the semifinals of 2003, in Malaga, where Gaudio went badly after losing his two singles.

Argentine fans in the Magic Box.

The now captain, champion of Roland Garros a year later, shows a serene attitude, which has nothing in common with the outbursts that accompanied him throughout his career. He is a restrained Gaudio, correct in press conferences, without overacting or boredom before the media of his active stage. Beside him, a low-profile Argentina, with greater collective commitment, walks long since the definitive abandonment of Del Potro's team, who tries to recover in Buenos Aires from a new injury, this time on his knee.

This Argentina, in some ways unknown, will be the one that will fight against Spain for a place in the semifinals. Pablo Carreño , foreseeable Baptist relay, will open before Pella, whom he has defeated in his two disputes. After the duel between two numbers one could still make sense the doubles match, with various combinations in the Spanish team. Not so in the rival, which, injured Horacio Zeballos , will go with Mayer and González.

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  • Rafael Nadal
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