The Canadian Davis Cup team, with Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil as its highest-ranked player, dropped its opening Group B tie of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals on Thursday with a 3-0 loss to Sweden at Madrid Arena in Madrid, Spain.
Canada sent Toronto’s Steven Diez out for the first single’s match against Elias Ymer. After jumping out to a 4-1 opening set lead, Diez won only three games the rest of the way, falling 6-4, 6-2.
Pospisil went into the second singles match knowing only a victory would keep Canada in the tie. Against Mikael Ymer, brother of Elias, Pospisil found points difficult to come by on his second serve, while his opponent had an 80 per cent success rate.
Ymer broke Pospisil early in the first set and remained composed to see it out at 6-4. The second set was finely poised and evenly matched. Pospisil crafted a break point opportunity which would have seen him take a 4-2 lead. Instead, Ymer held and then produced a break of his own to take control. Again, the Swede showed maturity beyond his years to withstand pressure from Pospisil and close out the second set 6-4.
“I think today I didn’t play badly, but my opponent played well and I didn’t play as well as I could have,” Pospisil said to Tennis Canada in his post-match press conference. “On any given day you can play up to your standards, a little bit above them or below, and today I played a guy that was playing really well and I just maybe didn’t execute the way that I’d like to.”
Canada captain Frank Dancevic made a change to his doubles line-up, switching out Diez for Brayden Schnur (Pickering, Ont.) to partner Pospisil, prior to the match. Facing Swedish pairing Andre Goransson and Robert Lindstedt, the first set began with consecutive breaks and there were two more – one apiece – later, but it finished all square, meaning a tiebreak was required to separate the teams. Sweden came out on top, taking the first set 7-6(5).
In the second set, the match remained balanced with neither side giving an inch. Eventually, the Swedish team made a breakthrough when Canada dropped their serve to make it 4-5. Goransson and Lindstedt made no mistake in serving out the match to cap a 3-0 victory in the tie.
“They were tough matches today for the boys,” Dancevic said. “It was a rough day going down 3-0 but we have our heads up. All the matches were really close and the guys actually came out playing really well in doubles so we’re looking forward to regrouping and getting ready for the Kazakhstan matches.”
The Canadian Davis Cup team’s next Group B tie is against Kazakhstan on Sunday (1:00 a.m. Pacific) and will be broadcast live in Canada in English on Sportsnet One.
Canada is playing the Davis Cup without two of its best singles players, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, who are recovering from injuries and fatigue.
Pospisil helped guide Canada to the Davis Cup final in 2019 against the eventual champions from Spain.