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"I was ready for that day, I had to arrive sooner rather than later, but that day does not warn." Pepe Vendrell refers to the moment when Roberto Bautista was called to inform him that his father's health had deteriorated irreversibly. Ximo Bautista fell off a truck unloading straw bales in July 2016. His health deteriorated until last Thursday, his son left the concentration of the Spanish Davis Cup team in Madrid to drive to Castellón accompanied from his coach. "He was able to say goodbye to his father before his death," says Vendrell in a telephone conversation, already back to Castellón by train.
“In the funeral home, Rober was broken , but on Friday night he started to watch tennis and sent me a message that he wanted to return with the team ; not with the intention of playing, just to surprise them and support them, ”continues the coach. Bautista had won Nikola Mektic the first point of the tie against Croatia, after losing the match against Russian Andrey Rublev in the debut. On Friday night, in the quarterfinals, Pablo Carreño fell to Guido Pella and left the match with a muscle injury in his left leg. Under minimum, Sergi Bruguera had to resort to Feliciano López to play the first semifinal match against Great Britain against Kyle Edmund . New defeat
«We return on Saturday morning, after the funeral. We stopped to eat and the team doctor [Ángel Ruiz Cotorro] called me to tell me that Pablo was injured, as was Marcel [Granollers]. Under normal conditions I did not think that Rober was going to play, nor had I considered it, because Spain has a top-level team and he was not in the ideal situation. We were about an hour away when I transferred the problems of his classmates. He began to mentalize immediately that he had to play . In May of last year Baptist had lost his mother , Esther, victim of a heart attack. Days later he decided to travel to Roland Garros . «That was even harder, however unexpected. He has always had that courage and has handled emotions well. Nobody tells him what he has to do ».
On Sunday, Baptist put forward the first game of the Davis Cup final against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime , a 19-year-old tennis player who is the 21st in the world and is called to break into the elite. A defeat would have again prompted Spain to play the doubles match to add two points. The public, who had kept a minute of silence on Friday for the death of his father, paid tribute to the tennis player accordingly on Sunday afternoon. «I could not escape this day. I had to win this game, ”he told me in the locker room, concludes Vendrell.
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