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Bautista Agut On First Meeting Nadal: 'He Was Already Showing The Champion He Is'

Bautista Agut is the highest-ranked No. 2 player from the ATP Cup's 24 countries

Roberto Bautista Agut will be playing for Team Spain at the inaugural ATP Cup in January. His country leads Group B, which will be contested in Perth. Spain will compete against Japan, Georgia and Uruguay with the hopes of advancing to Sydney.

Bautista Agut is the highest-ranked No. 2 player for any country, coming in at No. 9 in the ATP Rankings. The 31-year-old joins Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Feliciano Lopez in an effort to bring the title home for Spain.

The nine-time ATP Tour champion spoke to ATPTour.com about what it was like for him growing up in Spain, when he first met Nadal and what he most loves about his country.

What are some of your early memories of tennis growing up in Spain?
I remember when I was at the club, when I was spending almost every day there. My parents were dropping me off at 9am and they were collecting me at 9pm. I was almost there all day at the club, and this was the best thing. I remember I was playing all day with my friends, and that was nice.

Was tennis your main focus throughout your childhood?
I started playing tennis when I was five and I was playing soccer and tennis until I was 14. After that it was just tennis.

Growing up, who were the players from Spain you admired the most?
When I grew up I was watching TV and I was admiring the Spanish players. I was watching Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer. I was also admiring Carlos Moya, Sergi Bruguera, Rafael Nadal, all the Spanish players I was watching on TV.

What was special about them?
I like tennis and I like also the players that play for their country… it was fun to watch them.

Is there anything in particular about the ATP Cup that you’re excited about?
I’m excited because it’s going to be the first time [having this event] in Australia and Rafa and I are going to play there. I hope we have a good team and can play a good week for Spain.

Since you’re playing with Rafa, do you remember when you first met him?
Yes, we were playing in the Under 18s, a Spanish Championship. He was 16 and I was 14. I already heard very good things about him. I remember he left the tournament going to play Wimbledon juniors. I don’t remember if he won it or he played the final, but he was already showing the champion he is right now.

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What do you think will be the most special part about being on a team?
It’s always fun to play on a team. I spent a week at Laver Cup and team competition brings more emotions in the game. You play for your team and it’s really fun.

Who’s the funniest Spanish player?
Marc Lopez. He’s funny. He’s always open and he never says something serious.

Of all the Spaniards, if you could take one shot from them, what would it be?
I would take the serve of Carlos Moya, the courage and legs and the fighting spirit of David Ferrer. I would take Nadal’s forehand and Ferrero’s backhand.

What are three things you love about your country?
The weather, the kindness of the people and the food.

Is there anything in particular that reminds you of home?
I really miss the food from Spain. I really miss my family and my friends. It’s not easy to travel as many weeks as we do. But I really enjoy when I go back there and I spend a few days at home. It’s very powerful for me.