Rafael Nadal Leads Spain to Davis Cup Title Over Canada

Rafael Nadalhas helped Spain win big…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star, ranked No. 1 in the world, risked injury by playing eight matches — five singles, three doubles — in six days at the Davis Cup Finals, the new World Cup of tennis.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal won all of them, leading Spain to its sixth Davis Cup title after a 2-0 win over first-time finalist Canada on Sunday.

But in Nadal’s view, the only hero for Spain was grieving teammate Roberto Bautista Agut. He sent Spain on its way to victory by winning the first singles match on Sunday, three days after the death of his father.

“I’ve won the eight matches but the person who was vital in this Davis Cup was Roberto,” Nadal said. “For me, what he did was something almost inhuman. I don’t know how to explain it. It will be an example for the rest of my life. He had to leave, then his dad died, then he came back and practiced with us yesterday, and today he was ready again to play at a very high level. It was something incredible.”

Spain Davis Cup

Before Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (7) to clinch the title — Spain’s first since also winning at home in 2011 — Bautista Agut had given Spain a 1-0 lead by beating Felix Auger-Aliassime7-6 (3), 6-3.

Bautista Agut pointed his finger to the sky after winning the final point in his match, and was in tears while speaking briefly to the crowd, which chanted his name. And he was the Spanish player lifting the cup in the title celebrations.

Bautista Agut’s father died on Thursday — a day after his son had defeated Nikola Mektic of Croatia — with his health deteriorating quickly after an illness that stemmed from a 2016 accident.

Bautista Agut, No. 9 in the world, played as teammates Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers nursed injuries entering the final.

As for Nadal, he considered himself lucky to be able to play all matches.

“It’s true that I held up, but we know that playing so many matches in this [hard-court] surface is risky for me, something can happen at any time,” Nadal said. “That’s how it’s been in the past, but luckily I held up.”

Spain’s Granollers and Feliciano Lopezhad been scheduled to face Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisilin the now-canceled doubles match, although Nadal was likely to play if the title had been at stake. Nadal played in the decisive doubles on Friday and Saturday.

Voted the tournament’s best player, Nadal sealed the title with his 29th straight Davis Cup singles win, igniting the home crowd’s celebrations.

Tournament organizer and Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, his wife Shakira — who performed in the closing ceremony — and Spanish King Felipe VI were among those celebrating Spain’s triumph.

Spain’s other Davis Cup titles were in 2000, ’04, ’08, ’09 and ’11.

The new Davis Cup Finals is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the Kosmos group co-founded by Pique.

Gasol Named EuroBasket MVP After Leading Spain to the Gold

Pau Gasol has propelled Spain into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro…

The 35-year-old Spanish basketball star had a double-double as Spain cruised past Lithuania 80-63 on Sunday to take the EuroBasket title.

Pau Gasol

Gasol, the European Basketball Championship MVP, helped Spain earn its third title in the last four tournaments after having to settle for bronze two years ago.

“It was an incredible championship,” Gasol said. “We went through struggles early on but the team responded well, and with our backs to the wall, we understood that we had to play better defense.”

With Spain’s King Felipe VI and tennis star Rafael Nadal in the stands, the final was a one-sided affair as the Spaniards opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter and were never really threatened.

Gasol finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots, one steal and no turnovers to earn the tournament’s MVP award.

Pau Gasol

“It’s of special significance to play this well at this stage of my career after all I’ve accomplished,” said Gasol, the Chicago Bulls center who has two NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. “It is something I will remember until the end of my life.

The victory completed a turnaround for Spain, which came to the tournament without Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juan Carlos Navarro and Ricky Rubio and lost two of its first three games.

But with Gasol dominating, Spain raised its game when it mattered and looked impressive throughout the knockout stage. Gasol put his stamp on the final early, scoring eight straight points for Spain to lead 19-6.

That helped the team overcome the loss of influential guard Rudy Fernandez halfway into the third quarter when he was fouled by Robertas Javtokas. Fernandez fell to the ground, was helped off the floor while holding his left hip and did not return.

Spain and Lithuania booked direct slots to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Spain won the silver medal in the past two Olympics, and Gasol said he would be around once again if his body holds up.

Spain guard Sergio Rodriguez joined Gasol in the tournament’s all-star team.

Spain’s Queen Letizia Named a Special Ambassador for Nutrition by the United Nations

Queen Letizia of Spain is taking on a global role…

The 42-year-old Spanish wife of King Felipe VI has been named a Special Ambassador for Nutrition by the United Nations.

Queen Letizia of Spain

Queen Letizia was appointed during a special ceremony in Rome following her work campaigning against hunger and malnutrition across the world – and said she will use her new role to highlight the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

She turned heads during a state visit to Honduras last month where she was photographed wearing a tiny black dress, showing off her slender figure.

As a Special Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, she will now raise awareness of global hunger and help drive support around the world to help the problem.

Calling the Mediterranean diet ‘the best example of healthy and sustainable eating’, she used her first address as an ambassador to urge for ‘collective action’ from businesses, governments and individuals around the world to end malnutrition around the world.

The appointment of the FAO special ambassadors has an initial term of two years, which can then be renewed.