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Tennis-New captain Moya plotting Spain victory in Germany

Reuters

By Martyn Herman

Jan 30 (Reuters) - When Carlos Moya was climbing to the top of the world rankings he was used to having an entourage of coaches, physios and practice partners tending to his every need.

Top tennis players are among the most indulged sportsmen and women but, as Spain's latest Davis Cup captain, Moya is now seeing life from the other side of the fence.

The 37-year-old takes charge of his first Davis Cup tie this weekend, trying to plot Spain's path through a testing World Group first-round tie against Germany in Frankfurt.

Even without world number one and fellow Mallorcan Rafa Nadal and Spanish number two David Ferrer, Moya still has an enviable array of talent at his disposal and selecting the best combinations has been a new challenge.

Not to mention organising the practice, warm-ups, tactics, meal times and various other unseen duties.

"It's different definitely, you have a team of 15 guys around you that you have to manage every one, trying to put all the pieces together," Moya said in a TV interview.

"Then not being to go out on to court to play, that's different too although I'm already getting used to it."

The role of a captain often goes unnoticed when things go well but get it wrong and they often take the blame so Moya's decision to trust debutant Roberto Bautista Agut, ranked 52nd in the world, with Friday's opening singles against experienced Philipp Kohlschreiber is a bold one.

Bautista Agut, 25, is the third highest ranked singles player in the Spain squad, behind Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco, but his victory over world number four Juan Martin del Potro at the Australian Open this month prompted Moya to throw him in.

NOTHING TO LOSE

"I trust Roberto," said Moya, winner of the Davis Cup with Spain in 2004. "I'm happy with how the draw went and him playing first because if you play second you tend to be nervous waiting for your match.

"I will tell him don't worry about the crowd. They are going to try and bother you, don't worry about the opponent, he's good but so are you.

"I'll remind him the pressure is on Phillip, he's a higher ranked player, he is playing at home, you have nothing to lose. Play it like any tour match."

Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, retired in 2010 after a persistent foot injury and follows a long line of former players into the Davis Cup hot seat.

Alex Corretja followed Albert Costa, who won the team event in 2009 and 2011, and now Moya gets his turn as Spain seek a sixth title since 2000.

"I'm looking forward to it and I think it's going to be very exciting for all of us," Moya said.

"The week has been great so far and a great experience for me being around them. I'm very happy the way they've been practising and I think it's going to be a great tie.

"I'm trying to pass on my experiences from the past and take the pressure away from them," added Moya.

"One thing I've learned in Davis Cup is that rankings don't matter. It's about how they handle the situation and their experience."

One player who has plenty of experience in the team event is Germany's Tommy Haas although not in recent years.

Haas, an old sparring partner of Moya's, returns for only his second Davis Cup tie in seven years but the world number 12 is only set to play in Saturday's doubles because of a shoulder injury. (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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