Photo : Martin Sidorjak
The title defence is officially on.
Team Canada presented by Sobeys have begun their journey at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals Group Stage as defending champions for the first time in the nation’s history, shocking the host Italians in their opening tie with two straight-set singles wins from Alexis Galarneau and Gabriel Diallo and a three-set doubles win for Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil.
Galarneau stuns Sonego in opening match
It was clear from the start that Galarneau and world No. 38 Lorenzo Sonego were in for an epic duel; the first game lasted just under eight minutes and Galarneau saved four of four break points to avoid going into a hole early. Sonego finally managed to break Galarneau to take a 4-3 lead, but Galarneau fired right back by breaking Sonego in the potentially decisive 10th game to tie things up at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, the pair traded well-fought points but Galarneau ultimately prevailed, winning 10-8 to take the first set.
It was much of the same story in the second set, as Galarneau and Sonego went back and forth with neither player giving up much. The turning point of the match came in the fifth game, when Galarneau broke Sonego to take a 3-2 lead. The Canadian didn’t squander the opportunity, holding on to win the second set 6-4 and the opening match of the tie.
This marked the first career Davis Cup victory for Galarneau, who is currently ranked No. 200 in the world. The 24-year-old won 70 per cent of his first serve points, making only 22 unforced errors to Sonego’s 34.
DIALLO CLINCHES CANADA’S WIN BY DEFEATING MUSETTI
Diallo was presented with a tough task in his 2023 Davis Cup debut, taking on world No. 18 Lorenzo Musetti. The 21-year-old Canadian, ranked no. 158 in the world, was clearly up to the task right out of the gate as he held his own against the tactical Musetti.
The pair traded services for the opening 10 games until Diallo finally found an edge and broke Musetti to take a 6-5 lead. In the decisive final game, Diallo made no mistakes as he fired off four straight points to win the opening set 7-5. Diallo recorded four aces and won 94 per cent of his first serve points in the first set.
Diallo kept his composure in the second set, as Musetti couldn’t find a way to solve him. Tied at three games apiece, Diallo once again managed to break Musetti in the seventh game to go up 4-3. It was smooth sailing from there, as Diallo went on to win the second set 6-4 and the match, clinching Canada’s victory over Italy in the process.
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Diallo’s serve and limited mistakes were the strongest proponents of his nearly flawless play against Musetti. Overall, he dished 10 aces and won 94 per cent of his first serve points. He allowed zero break point opportunities as he defeated the top-ranked opponent of his career.
CANADIANS COMPLETE SWEEP AS GALARNEAU, POSPISIL WIN DOUBLES
The pressure was off Team Canada for their third match of the day, having already clinched the victory over Italy thanks to Diallo and Galarneau’s earlier wins. Still, Galarneau took to the court for his second match of the day alongside veteran Vasek Pospisil, as the pair looked to complete the sweep against Simone Bolelli and Matteo Arnaldi.
The Italians broke the Canadians early in the first set, but Pospisil and Galarneau responded by breaking right back to tie things up at two. The opening set eventually went to a tiebreak, where the Italians prevailed 7-4 for their first set of the day.
Pospisil and Galarneau managed to break first in the second set, jumping out to a 3-2 lead against Bolelli and Arnaldi. This time around, the Canadians went on to hold their serves to win the set 6-4 and force a third and final set.
The Canadians opened the third set with a break in the opening game, moving one step closer to completing the sweep. With Pospisil eventually serving for the match with the Canadians up 5-4, the Italians quickly went up 0-40. Pospisil and Galarneau stormed back to force a deuce, but the Italians held on to break and tie things up.
In the eventual tie-break, the Canadians jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and won the breaker 7-3, completing the sweep of Italy.
Next up, the Canadians will take on Sweden on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. ET.