Auger-Aliassime loses to Bautista Agut and Shapovalov overpowered by Nadal
Madrid, November 24, 2019 – On Sunday, for the very first time in its history, Canada played in the Davis Cup Final against one of the most powerful tennis nations: Spain. In front of a sold-out crowd at Caja Magica in Madrid, the Spaniards were crowned world champions with a 2-0 victory over Canada thanks to two big singles wins.
For the momentous occasion, captain Frank Dancevic sent Félix Auger-Aliassime (Montréal, QC) into the mix as Canada’s No.2 and appointed Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, ON) for the second battle. Spanish captain Sergi Bruguera sent World No.1 Rafael Nadal and World No.9 Roberto Bautista Agut, who lost his father just a few days ago.
Canada and Spain met for the third time. In 1991, Spain was victorious, while Canada caused an upset with a win in Vancouver in 2013.
Auger-Aliassime and Bautista Agut had never met on the court and spent the first games sizing each other up. The Canadian had a relatively easy time on serve but struggled with his returns, only chalking up his first point at 4-3 on Bautista Agut’s fourth service game. It took a tiebreaker to decide the first set and give the metronomic Spaniard a 1-0 lead. He used the momentum to break Auger-Aliassime at the start of the second. The Montrealer recovered but was then broken again in the following game and lost the match (7-6(3), 6-3).
Again today, Shapovalov had the weight of a nation on his shoulders in his match against Rafael Nadal. The two opponents collided for the third time. Shapovalov won their first duel in Montréal in 2017, and Nadal triumphed in Rome in 2018. In front of an increasingly boisterous crowd, Nadal broke the Canadian fairly early on for a point that eventually secured the first set. The second was a nail-biter, with the intensity reaching new heights in the tiebreaker. In the end, after spectacularly saving two match points, Shapovalov was overpowered (6-3, 7-6(7)). Nadal and his teammates raised Spain’s sixth Davis Cup trophy.
With its final appearance, Canada merited its place in the 2020 Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, which will also be presented in Madrid, and is therefore exempt from playing in the qualifying event next March.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“Of course, Frank’s decision was a difficult one. I think I could’ve played earlier this week: I felt ready as early as the quarterfinals. Frank chose Vasek for obvious reasons for the first two matches of the quarters and semis. For the final, it was a gamble. We both had a chance to win and a chance to lose. I could have won the match, but, despite everything, I think I can still be proud. I had opportunities and I did what I had to do. It’s tough because when you have chances in the first set and things don’t go your way, it’s hard to swallow. It was an important point since Nadal was up against Denis in the next match. But that’s life and they played better, so congratulations to them.”
“Rafa played a really good match. He served really well in the first set. In the second, I felt like I was the better player most of the games. There were lots of long games. I was in most of his service games, and he did a really good job of staying in it. He recovered really well after having two match points and me coming back. It was difficult, but it’s a fun atmosphere. It’s pretty special to be playing in a occasion like this. The World Number 1 playing on home court. Of course, it sucks to lose, but it’s a big learning experience for me.
I feel like we really come far as a nation. We’re super proud. It sucks losing in finals, but I’m super proud of the people sitting here, the people in the background. It’s amazing how far we’ve come.”
Vasek Pospisil on Davis Cup 2013 versus 2019
“It feels like a different generation almost. Obviously, it’s not that long ago, but it feels like it was. Denis and Félix are super young. In both cases, we had good energy on the team. Now, making the finals is amazing. There’s only so many times you can do something like that in your career. These guys, I mean, I’ll put money on it: they’ll win this competition one day. Hopefully I can be a part of that but, obviously, the quality of tennis these two play is amazing. Both 2013 and this year were special, but making the finals is a whole different thing. It’s not quarter or the semis… that’s special, of course. This is a whole other stage. The way I perceive it, it’s Grand Slams, then Olympics, then Davis Cup Finals. They’re all kind of the same thing. It’s pretty amazing to be part of it.”
“It was an amazing week. Tennis is really hot right now in Canada. We’re known for hockey, but with all the results of these guys, starting with Vasek, Milos and now Denis and Félix and Bianca as well, we’re in the finals here. It’s great for our sport. It’s wonderful to see this generation playing so well. We have a really bright future ahead of us, and it’s bringing a lot of kids to clubs. The nation is proud to be part of tennis right now.”
“We have to give credit to the Canadians this week. The team will become one that’s always a favourite to win the title in the next few years, and Denis has something special—something you either have or you don’t. Something you can’t learn in training.”