Félix Auger-Aliassime was unable to overcome the challenge posed by Dusan Lajovic as Team Canada fell 1-0 behind in their ATP Cup quarter-final against Serbia. Denis Shapovalov now knows that anything but a victory against World No. 2 and 16-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will see Canada exit the inaugural tournament.

After results elsewhere went their way, Canada’s contingent travelled from Brisbane – where they had beaten Greece and Germany but lost to Australia – to Sydney to take on a Serbia team that had won all three of its round robin ties – against Russia, France and Chile respectively.

In what was the first meeting between the two players, Lajovic took an early lead over Auger-Aliassime. The Serbian hit a powerful backhand return which kissed the baseline and put the 19-year-old Montrealer on the backfoot, forcing the young Canadian into ballooning his shot to give Lajovic the break. He would not give up his advantage as he served out the set 6-4.

Both players held their serve well for the opening four games of the second set. The fifth, however, was a mammoth battle that included five break point opportunities for Lajovic. The 29-year-old, who had won two and lost one of his three matches at ATP Cup heading into this tie, ensured it was fifth time lucky as he forced Auger-Aliassime into another error to take a crucial lead. It was a lead he would extend to 5-2 with another break of the Canadian’s serve just a few games later.

That set up the opportunity for Lajovic to serve out the match. The Serbian, ranked No. 34 on the ATP Tour, duly obliged – serving out the final game to love to hand his team a 1-0 advantage with the rubber between Shapovalov and Djokovic up next.

(Feature photo: ATP Cup/ATP Tour)