Tennis Canada announced on Monday that Félix Auger-Aliassime (Montreal, QC), Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON), Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, ON) and Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, BC) have been selected by Canadian Davis Cup captain Frank Dancevic to represent Canada at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, which will take place from November 18 to 24 at the Caja Magica in Madrid.
“It will be difficult, seeing as all of the qualified teams for the Finals are strong. There are no weak opponents. In our group, the United States and Italy both have excellent players in singles and doubles. If we hope to go deep in this competition, we will have to be able to count on our best players and so I am very pleased that Félix, Denis, Milos and Vasek have all answered the call. We have come close to achieving our goal in the past by reaching the semi-finals; the next step will be to be crowned champions. I believe that we now have the players and the depth to accomplish this,” stated Canadian team captain Frank Dancevic after the draw.
Auger-Aliassime, 19-years-old, will be playing in his third Davis Cup after having been selected for the first time in Toronto in September 2018 and having played in his first matches in a tie this past February. In his debut, he notched the decisive victory in the fifth match of the tie, against Norbert Gombos of Slovakia. Currently ranked no. 17 in the world, he is the highest ranked Canadian on the team. In 2019, he has taken part in three ATP finals in Rio, Lyon and Stuttgart.
Shapovalov will be taking part in his seventh Davis Cup tie. At 20 years old, he won yesterday his first career title on the ATP Tour. Currently ranked no. 27 in the world, he holds a winning record in Davis Cup with seven wins and four losses. During Canada’s last tie, he won both of his singles matches to bring Canada to victory over Slovakia.
For his part, Raonic will be making a return to Davis Cup after missing the qualifying tie earlier this year. The world no. 32 in the ATP rankings will be returning to the court this week in Vienna, his first tournament since the Laver Cup and only his second since Rogers Cup presented by National Bank. The 28-year-old Ontario native holds a record of 18 wins and only 6 losses in Davis Cup. His last two wins came against the Netherlands in September 2018.
Pospisil will round out the Canadian contingent. After undergoing surgery in January for a herniated disc and missing numerous months of competition, he returned to the court at Wimbledon. In early October, he qualified for the main draw and reached the second round at the Shanghai Masters, notably defeating Diego Schwartzman of Argentina. Yesterday, he was crowned champion at the Las Vegas Challenger. The 29-year-old will bring a lot of depth to the Canadian team, he who has represented his country during 19 Davis Cup ties, playing in 19 singles and 15 doubles matches.
The 18 countries who have qualified for the Finals are divided into six groups comprised of three nations. Canada is in Group F alongside the United States and Italy and will have to face the two countries in a round robin. Canada will first cross paths with Italy on November 18 and the United States on the following day. The Davis Cup Finals will be played on an indoor hard court surface.
The winners of the six groups along with the two next best nations (depending on the number of wins and the percentage of sets and games won/lost) will qualify for the quarter-finals which will take place as of Thursday November 21. If Canada finishes first in their group, they will face the winner of Group D in the quarter-finals. The semi-finals will be played on Saturday and the final on Sunday, November 24. Each of these match-ups will consist of two singles matches and a doubles match all played as a best of three sets.
The Canadian Davis Cup team qualified for the Finals by overcoming Slovakia by a score of 3-2 this past February. In the victory, Shapovalov won both of his singles matches and Auger-Aliassime notched an important win in the decisive match.
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(Feature photo: Mauricio Paiz)