10/29/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/29/2020 07:42
We're counting down to the week that would have been the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals by asking fans on social media to name their all-time dream teams.
The three nations that make up Group A - Spain, Russia and Ecuador - are now complete and would make some intriguing battles should the players meet on court.
If the defending champions could name this team when all five players were at the peak of their prowess, they would be a handful for any nation. With four-time Davis Cup champion Nadal leading the way as the obvious candidate to play No. 1 singles, the 34-year-old has shown time and again that he is almost impossible to beat in Davis Cup.
It's a well-known fact but one worth repeating that Nadal has won 29 consecutive singles matches in Davis Cup and has only ever lost one singles encounter - on his debut against Jiri Novak.
The captain of this Spanish team would have a trickier, albeit pleasant, decision to make as to who plays No. 2. David Ferrer, who so often played second fiddle to Nadal during Spain's period of real-life Davis Cup dominance between 2008 and 2011, would be a strong contender.
But the dream team skipper also has two other former world No. 1 singles players at his disposal in the shape of Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero - both of whom can boast an impressive singles win-loss record when wearing the red shirt of Spain.
Should the tie need to go to the doubles then things get a bit harder to predict because neither Ferrer nor Moya ever played Davis Cup doubles and Ferrero lost the only doubles match he played. Feliciano Lopez, one would think, would be called upon to team up with Nadal as was the case in the 2019 Davis Cup Finals semi-final against Great Britain, in which the pair prevailed 7-6 7-6 against Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.
Two-time Davis Cup champion Marat Safin received the most votes for the dream Russian team and as such would be most likely play No. 1 singles. If that were the case Russia would be in the enviable position of being able to name Yevgeny Kafelnikov - a former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion - as their No. 2 singles player.
Safin was no stranger to playing as either No. 1, as he did to great effect in leading Russia to the title in 2002, but he also clinched the trophy for his country as No. 2 in 2006.
Kafelnikov did actually play as No. 2 behind Safin in 2002 - the year that Russia clinched their first title - and it was all about that pair as they played in singles and doubles in almost every live rubber - all except the very last match of that season when Mikhail Youzhny famously came from two sets down to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu.
So should the tie go down to the doubles in all likelihood it would be Safin and Kafelnikov who were called upon to clinch the tie.
The surprise package of the next edition of the Davis Cup Finals was Ecuador. But what was not surprising was the fact that there were two names on most people's lips when it came to who should be part of an all-time dream team.
Nicolas Lapentti received the most votes which comes as no surprise as he holds pretty much every Ecuadorian Davis Cup record there is: most total wins (61), most singles wins (41), most doubles wins (20, jointly-held with Andres Gomez), and most ties played (18).
As one of the best players from South America in the 1990s, Lapentti took Ecuador from Americas Group II when he made his debut in 1993 all the way to the World Group by 2001 but even though he is famed as one of the greatest battlers in the history of the competition even he would have his work cut out playing against the likes of Nadal and Safin.
The other name that cropped up time and again in Ecuador's dream team was Andres Gomez. Among his many other achievements, Gomez enjoyed a 21-year Davis Cup career, the highlight of which came in 1985 when Ecuador reached the quarter-finals for the only time to date.
Having cemented his place in Grand Slam history with his triumph at Roland Garros at the age of 30 in 1990, Gomez continued to represent Ecuador in Davis Cup for another decade, contesting his final tie as a 40-year-old in 2000. He played 37 ties during his career and notched up 51 victories in the competition.
It would be a surprise if either of those two players were to topple the might of Spain or Russia's singles nominees, but if the tie were to go to a decisive doubles then Gomez and Lapentti would probably be thrown back into action, as both players jointly hold the record for most doubles wins for their country.