Tennis for once managed to knock soccer off the front pages of the Spanish sports press on Friday as the country rediscovered a passion for the sport ahead of the Davis Cup final against Australia.
“We can’t afford to let this opportunity slip,” informed Madrid daily Marca, while Barcelona-based El Mundo Deportivo called the final “a date with history” on its front page.
Tickets for Spain’s first appearance in a final on home soil sold out within an hour and a capacity crowd of just under 14,000 is assured at the Palau Sant Jordi for each of the three days.
The fact that the match is being played on red clay has convinced the Spanish public that their team are finally about to break their duck in the competition.
It is 79 years since Spain made their debut in the competition and they have made the final just twice, losing in 1965 and 1967, both times to Australia, away on grass.
The Aussies, meanwhile, have taken the title 27 times, including last year’s victory over France in Nice.
The appearance of Hewitt in the first match was expected to bring a heated reaction from the crowd, following Alex Corretja’s criticism of the 19-year-old Australian last week.
Hewitt’s on-court exuberance and overt aggression brought a rebuke from Corretja at the Masters Cup in Lisbon.