History has been made.
The BMW Canadian Davis Cup team has reached the final of the Davis Cup for the first time. It took all three rubbers of a semi-final tie against Russia to clinch the win with Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) doubles victory over Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov proving decisive.
The first rubber didn’t start well for Pospisil (No. 150), who has been so solid on serve at these Finals so far, as he failed to win a point in the first two games – Rublev (No. 23) going up a break. The Canadian played himself into form and had three break point opportunities in game eight but couldn’t convert any of them. In the next game, Pospisil defended remarkably to nullify three Rublev set points but he couldn’t stop the Russian sealing the set 6-4 on his own serve.
The first talking point of the second set came when Pospisil hit a backhand wide left to give Rublev a 40:30 lead and a break point opportunity. Another unforced error – this time a forehand wide right – ensured the Russian was able to take it. However, the Canadian quickly pulled level, applying pressure on Rublev’s serve which forced the 23-year-old to double fault on break point.
He wasn’t level for long, though, as Rublev broke back immediately to re-establish his lead – Pospisil hitting his shot into the net on break point. From there on in the Russian made no mistake on his way to winning the second set 6-4 and therefore the match.
In the tie’s second match, Khachanov, ranked No. 17 on the ATP Tour, had an early chance to go ahead as he created two break point opportunities on the No. 15-ranked Shapovalov’s serve. Unfortunately, the Canadian double faulted at the crucial moment to hand the Russian an early 3-1 lead.
The 20-year-old did bounce back, though, as Khachanov hit long on the first of two break points in game seven to force the set back on serve. The turnaround was complete when Shapovalov converted on his third break point in game nine, firing a cross-court backhand beyond Khachanov. He then served out the set 6-4.
The second set remained on serve until the tenth game when Khachanov – 5-4 up – manufactured two break points. Again, Shapovalov double faulted, levelling the match at one set apiece and ensuring a third was needed to separate the two players.
It was Shapovalov who made the first move, breaking Khachanov in the seventh game to take a decisive 4-3 lead. The Canadian almost handed the Russian a route back into the match when a double fault provided Khachanov with three break point opportunities. But Shapovalov came back emphatically to serve out the set 6-4.
The anticipation was palpable ahead of the doubles rubber. Pospisil and Shapovalov made a fast start, taking the game to Rublev and Khachanov and forcing an early break. That would prove vital as the Canadian duo went on to win the first set 6-3.
At the start of the second set, it was the Russians who took the initiative, breaking Pospisil and Shapovalov to take a 3-1 lead. The Canadians did pull a break back to level proceedings but Rublev and Khachanov found another break, giving them the opportunity to serve for the set and they duly obliged.
In the third and final set, it remained on serve and went to a tiebreak. Russia took a quick 3-0 lead after a minibreak on the first point but Canada battled back to 4-4 before winning two minibreaks of their own to set up two match points. On the second, Pospisil’s serve was returned long, sending Canada to the final and Russia home.