Singles victories for Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov seal historic victory

Toronto, Sunday January 9, 2022 Team Canada was crowned ATP Cup champions on Sunday following a historic victory over Spain in the Finals, which were held on the hardcourts of Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, ON) and Félix Auger-Aliassime (Montreal, QC) each won their singles rubbers in straight sets to clinch Canada’s first title since the tournament was established in 2020.

Comprised of Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov, Brayden Schnur (Pickering, ON) and Steven Diez (Toronto, ON), Team Canada’s road to the final seemed an unlikely prospect following the first round of group play which commenced just a week ago. Their opening round-robin tie loss to the United States (0-3) suggested it might be a tough week but they bounced back with consecutive victories over Great Britain (2-1) and Germany (2-1) to ensure qualification from Group C to the semi-finals. There, Canada faced reigning Davis Cup and defending ATP Cup champions Russia in what would be their most difficult test of the tournament. Shapovalov scored a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Roman Safiullin before Auger-Aliassime went down 6-4, 6-0 to World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev. However, a clutch doubles performance from the Canadian duo saw them emerge as 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 winners in the deciding rubber to seal their place in Sunday’s final. Their opponents, Spain, were caused little fuss in qualifying from their group, winning all three ties whilst dropping just a single match. They faced Poland in the semi-finals as Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta both recorded singles victories to ensure they reached the final.

Sunday’s tie represented a rematch of the 2019 Davis Cup Final, when Canada faced Spain in a packed Caja Magica in Madrid. On that occasion, Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal’s victories over Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov won the title for Spain. This time, though, Shapovalov got proceedings underway with a commanding 6-4, 6-3 victory over Carreno Busta. A fairly evenly matched first set was settled when the Canadian, up 5-4 on serve, broke his opponent thanks to a signature cross-court forehand which the Spaniard could only redirect wide of the mark. Shapovalov got off to a solid start in the second set, scoring an early break and consolidating to go up 4-1. Carreno Busta battled back and levelled with a break of his own, but Shapovalov refused to be denied and produced another break in the very next game to regain his lead. Serving for the match, the Canadian fought back from 15:30 down and showed incredible defensive attributes to force his opponent into a mistake on match point to claim the win.

In the second singles rubber, Auger-Aliassime took on Bautista Agut in what would be the pair’s fourth career meeting. Their first was the aforementioned clash in the 2019 Davis Cup Finals, while their most recent was a marathon five-set, round of 32 thriller on Auger-Aliassime’s way to the US Open semi-finals in 2021. This match in Sydney started with an early exchange of breaks in the first set, which would eventually be settled by a tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime jumped out to a quickfire 5-1 lead thanks to three minibreaks and he did not back down on his way to claiming it 7-3. Despite two early break point opportunities for Bautista Agut, Auger-Aliassime held firm in the second set and made his move in the eighth game. The Canadian crafted a 40:15 lead on his opponent’s serve and sealed a decisive break when Bautista Agut hit a long return to a strong Auger-Aliassime backhand. Serving for the match, the tie and the title, the Montrealer showed no nerves as he constructed a 40:0 lead and, on his second match point, hit a strong serve down the middle which Bautista Agut returned beyond the baseline to confirm Canada’s victory. Auger-Aliassime’s win means he will jump to a career-high No. 9 in the ATP rankings.

“Thank you to the City of Sydney, the government of New South Wales, thank you for putting on this event,” Auger-Aliassime said in his post-tie on-court interview. “There has been a lot of uncertainty in the last couple of months so thank you for hosting the ATP Cup. It’s been an amazing week, an amazing organization and a lot of fun at the end, a lot of pleasure for all the players competing, so thank you very much to the ATP, Tennis Australia, of course. I’d like to start by congratulating Spain for their amazing week. I have the utmost respect for every one of you. You are terrific players, terrific athletes and I’ve looked up to a lot of you guys in the past so you’re great sportsmen and great tennis players. So, congratulations again and good luck in Melbourne and for the rest of the season. I’d like, of course, to thank Denis and my team. You guys have been amazing all week. The support, the determination throughout the week. It was a tough start for us but the way we pulled each other until the end was a great effort. For my part, I enjoyed every day coming here in front of you so thank you for making it special every time I come.”

“I’d like to thank my team,” Shapovalov added. “There was a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of the week, with a couple of us being quarantined and not sure if we’re able to play. We all just adapted really well, I think, and worked really well as a team. Every single person collaborated and really worked together really well throughout the competition, making some really good calls and the support was just amazing. I think this was one of my favourite weeks in my whole career. So, thank you. I want to thank Tennis Australia, the ATP, everyone involved in the organization for an event like this. I think it’s exactly what tennis needs and it’s so much fun to be a part of. Lastly, to keep it short thank you to the fans, thank you so much to everyone who came out. You guys carried us a really, really long way. This cup is not only ours but to every Canadian around that supported us and led us here, thank you, guys.”


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