Madrid, Spain, Sunday November 28, 2021 — The Canadian Davis Cup team presented by Sobeys was knocked out of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals following a 3-0 loss to Kazakhstan in Group B on Sunday at Madrid Arena in Spain.
Captain Frank Dancevic made a change to his lineup from Thursday’s tie against Sweden as Brayden Schnur (Pickering, ON) replaced Steven Diez (Toronto, ON) for the first singles match against Kazakhstan. He took on Mikhail Kukushkin in what was the first-ever meeting between the players. Schnur put on a battling display but the first set would be decided by a single break of serve which went the way of his opponent, who claimed it 6-3. However, with Kukushkin up a break and with match point in the second set, Schnur showed great resilience to break back before winning the set-deciding tiebreak 7-5. The Canadian kept pushing and was hitting a variety of powerful forehands as well as deft drop shots. The third set was an intense affair, with both players dropping serve early. It remained level until, at 6-5 up, Kukushkin broke Schnur again to claim the set 7-5 and the match.
“The first set, obviously, I don’t think I played great,” Schnur said in his post-match press conference, “but it takes some time to adjust to his ball, everything is pretty much underspin on a wooden court that’s bouncing low already and very slow. So, I have zero regrets in the first set, it just took me a little bit of time to find my groove. Outside of that, I played great and I regret the second game of the third [set].”
In the tie’s second singles rubber, Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, BC) faced World No. 36 Alexander Bublik, who had beaten Mikael Ymer in Kazakhstan’s 2-1 win over Sweden on Saturday. This match in Madrid was the first meeting between the two players. Two breaks for Bublik in the first set, in which he had a 100% first serve percentage, saw the 24-year-old take it 6-2, despite Pospisil’s best efforts. The second set was evenly matched and remained on serve meaning a tiebreak was required to separate the two players. It was Bublik who came out on top, claiming it 8-6 to win the match and the tie for Kazakhstan.
“He served well,” Pospisil began in his post-match press conference. “I just didn’t play my best. For me, that’s disappointing. I just feel like I’m not as sharp these last few weeks on the court as I’d like to be.”
He added: “It’s obviously disappointing for our team to go out the way we did but we fought hard, we tried to do our best and that’s it. Now I’ll go home, have a bit of a break and get ready for next year.”
Dancevic made a change to his doubles lineup before the third match got underway, subbing in Peter Polansky (Toronto, ON) for Pospisil to partner Schnur. They would face Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. In what was a dead rubber in terms of the outcome of the tie, Schnur and Polansky fought well but we’re ultimately undone by their opponents, losing 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1.
“It was definitely a tough week for us,” said Dancevic in his post-tie press conference. “I thought that we had a little bit of a shaky start in the first match against Sweden, guys weren’t sharp going into the matches. Today, I think the guys played great. Starting with Brayden and his match, I thought he played an incredible match, had chances and it could have gone either way in my opinion. Same with Vasek. Bublik came up with some incredible shots in the tiebreaker to finish that match and I feel like if we could have pushed that to a third set, anything could have happened.
“Overall, I thought the guys played their hearts out this week. They did everything they could to try and get us through. We knew we had to win 3-0 today to have a chance and it was a really, really tough task. But in the end, we’ll keep our heads up, regroup, assess a few things from this week and move forward from here.”
Sunday’s results mean Team Canada is now out of the Davis Cup Finals and will play a Qualifiers tie in 2022. The draw for the Qualifiers will be made on Sunday December 5 in Madrid.