Thanks to Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil, Canada opened the 2019 Davis Cup by Rakuten Men’s Tennis finals in Madrid with a 2-1 victory over Italy.
Canadian captain Frank Dancevic chose Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, Ont) and Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, BC) to fight the BMW Canadian Davis Cup team’s clash with the Italians. They each played a singles match and then teamed up in doubles. Félix Auger-Aliassime (Montreal), who is coming back from an ankle injury and needed more time to prepare, was sidelined.
Pospisil set the pace when he upset World No.12 Fabio Fognini in two tight sets (7-6 (5), 7-5) to give his team the first point. In the first set, the Canadian managed to secure a break point and quickly gained a 3-1 lead. Fognini then raised his game and forced a tiebreak, but the Canadian was more convincing on the important points. In the second, the opponents battled up until the very end, when Pospisil earned the break at 5-5 and served for the match.
“I’m very happy with how I played. I’ve been playing well in the last few months, and so I was pretty high on confidence. I feel like my game is in a good place and so is my head,” said Pospisil to Tennis Canada after the match. “I’m just so happy I could deliver the first point, and it was a very important one. Now that it’s the best of three matches, every match becomes so valuable. It would have been nice to win the doubles. That one didn’t go our way but it was still a very good day for us.”
The nail-biter that pitted Shapovalov against World No.8 Matteo Berrettini will certainly go down in Canadian Davis Cup history. After tussling for nearly three hours, Shapovalov brought the confrontation to an end in three sets (7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(5)). On his way to victory, the 19-year-old Canadian faced down three set points at 4-5 in the first. Both players were brilliant on serve, but, when all was said and done, it was Shapovalov who celebrated when Berrettini’s forehand floated out. With the win, he brings his Canadian Davis Cup record to 8-3.
Pospisil and Shapovalov then came back onto the Stadium 2 court for their doubles showdown against Berrettini and Fognini. Despite their best efforts, they fell to the Italians in three sets (6-2, 3-6, 6-3).
“It was a very emotional day but I couldn’t be happier with the final result,” said Dancevic. “We weren’t the favourites, but I’m so proud of the players. They gave all they had and the result is incredible.”
Before today, Canada and Italy had only met one other time in Davis Cup. In 2013 in Vancouver, the Canadian squad posted a 3-1 win to qualify for the semifinals for the second time in its history. Milos Raonic prevailed in his two singles matches, and Daniel Nestor and Pospisil teamed up to net a hard-fought triumph in a match that ended at 15-13 in the fifth set.
Canada will face its next opponent Tuesday at 9 a.m. Pacific when the team completes its first round against the United States. The American roster includes Jack Sock, who teamed with Pospisil to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles crown in 2014.
Davis Cup by Rakuten is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with 133 nations entered in 2019. The competition is 119 years old, having been founded in 1900.