Roberto Bautista Agut played—and won—in the Davis Cup final soon after losing his father. (Getty Images)

For Roberto Bautista Agut, the regular tennis season was one full of career milestones: a first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open, an even-deeper finish at Wimbledon and a year-end appearance in the Top 10 of the ATP rankings.

Near the end of the year, though, he suffered one of his greatest personal losses off the court as his beloved father passed away during the Davis Cup Finals. Bautista Agut, a vital member of Spain’s team, withdrew from the event to be with his family and mourn.

Perhaps sensing that time on the court would help with his grief and indicating his father would want him to play, the Spaniard returned to the fold just in time for the championship tie against Canada. In the opening rubber, he faced Felix Auger-Aliassime, the teenage sensation who made tremendous strides up the rankings in 2019.

After a tight first set won by Bautista Agut, the second went more smoothly for the veteran as he wrapped up the match in straight sets to stake Spain to a 1-0 lead. A simple finger point to the sky afterward clearly indicated to whom this victory was dedicated.

Not that Bautista Agut’s singles teammate Rafael Nadal would ever need any extra motivation, but the world No. 1 seemingly played with even more fire in the second rubber against Canada’s other young star, Denis Shapovalov. Nadal also took his match in straight sets, clinching the Davis Cup title for Spain, the host country’s first in the team event in nearly a decade.

Bautista Agut missed the earlier years of this new millennium when Spain dominated the tournament. Now, though, he can call himself a Davis Cup champion—a fact his father would surely be proud of.