Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Since losing their opening tie to the United States, the Canadian team has flipped the switch, defeated Great Britain and Germany, and punched their ticket to the ATP Cup semi-finals.
On Saturday, things were looking bleak for the Canadians after suffering a 3-0 loss to their neighbours to the south. However, the squad regrouped against the Brits and clinched the tie in the decisive doubles match with a clutch 7-6(4), 6-3 win from Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime over Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury.
Today, the Brits defeated the Americans ahead of Canada’s tie against Germany, which meant that the Canadians had their fate in their own hands. A win against the Germans would earn them a spot in the semi-finals.
Shapovalov – currently ranked No. 14 – got the ball rolling for the Canadian team with a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 victory against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Despite being ranked higher than Struff (37 spots), this was a tough matchup for Shapovalov. Before today’s contest, Struff was 2-0 versus Canadians in ATP Cup singles matches and led his head-to-head against Shapovalov 5-2. The Canadian managed to get one back from Struff, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
The World No. 14 had a solid performance, coming up big during the crucial points and winning 71 per cent of his service points. In the third set, Shapovalov converted on his first break point opportunity to take the break advantage and then saved four break points to keep Struff from mounting a comeback.
With the all-important first point won, all Auger-Aliassime needed to do was defeat the World No. 3 Alexander Zverev to seal a spot in the semi-finals for Canada. Defeating Zverev is a tough task, especially in a semis-clinching scenario. However, the young Canadian has done it before, on the biggest of stages, in the round of 16 of Wimbledon.
Auger-Aliassime and Zverev’s bout was high-quality tennis from start to finish. Right out the gate, Auger-Aliassime broke the World No. 3’s first service game. Then, the Montreal native saved four break points in the sixth game and eventually claimed the first set 6-4.
Zverev managed to level things at 1-1, meaning the match needed to go to a decider. The third set was clean from the Canadian, breaking the German twice and not allowing Zverev a chance to break back. With everything on the line, it was an extraordinary 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win from Auger-Aliassime.
Canada advances to their first-ever semi-final at the ATP Cup and will face the defending champions, Russia.
loss in doubles
In the third match of the day, Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez took to the court for team Canada in doubles. The Canadian duo had a difficult matchup against Kevin Krawietz (No. 14) and Tim Puetz (No. 18), who each have six career titles in doubles on the ATP Tour.
In the opening game, Canada earned the first break advantage but, the Germans struck right back in the second game and added another break in the fourth. The Germans took the first set by a score of 6-3.
In the second set, the Canadians stepped up their level of play, especially in the service department. Unfortunately for the Canadian team, the doubles veterans came up big in the ninth game on their first break point opportunity of the second set. The break was all Krawietz and Puetz needed to overcome the Canadians, clinching the match 6-3, 6-4.