Canada, thanks to Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil, has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Tennis Finals in Spain.
After surprising Italy Monday, the BMW Canadian Davis Cup team was back on the courts barely 18 hours later to take on the United States. Canada triumphed 2-1.
For the second showdown, Canadian captain Frank Dancevic once again chose Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Pospisil to play in singles. US captain Mardy Fish brought in Taylor Fritz (ranked No. 32 in world) and Reilly Opelka (No. 36).
Pospisil posted his second victory in two days over a member of the Top 40. Obviously fatigued, he fought hard and hung on against his towering six-foot-11 opponent in Opelka. Currently ranked World No. 150, the 29-year-old Canadian gave the nation its first point at the outcome of a match with no break points (7-6(5), 7-6(7)).
Pospisil was strong in the key moments, taking 5-0 and 5-2 leads in the tiebreakers. With the win, he brings his total Davis Cup conquests to 19.
“When I came back from injury, I never thought I could play at this level,” said Pospisil to Tennis Canada. “To be honest, my goal was to finish the year healthy. I was optimistic but I never thought it would be this fast. I’m playing great tennis in the last few months and my body feels as good as it probably felt in years.”
Next up was Shapovalov, who seized Canada’s winning point by overpowering Fritz in two sets (7-6(6), 6-3).
“I feel like I’m in great shape and I’m playing great tennis. I’m very happy with the matches I’ve played here so far,” said Shapovalov.
“Our players played with heart again today, but it was hard on their bodies. We have a few injuries to take care of but nothing too serious. There was a risk of more serious injury and that’s why we didn’t play the doubles match,” saidd Dancevic. “I’m proud of my players again today. The conditions were tough after yesterday. The Americans were fresh but we got big wins.”
Today’s matches were the first between Canada and the US since 1965. The nations had met 15 times in the past, with the Americans winning every time.
The Canadian squad now has a well-deserved day off before hitting the courts on Thursday in its quarterfinal duel against the winner of Group D, made up of Belgium, Australia and Colombia.