Canada are through to their third Davis Cup semi-final after Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov clinched a 2-1 win over Australia
Canada are through to the Davis Cup semi-finals for the third time in the competition’s history after beating Australia in the first knockout match of the 2019 Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals.
Vasek Pospisil emerged as the hero for the Canadians, winning both his singles and doubles matches in straight sets either side of Alex De Minaur’s dramatic comeback victory over Denis Shapovalov, who returned with Pospisil to defeat John Peers and Jordan Thompson, 6-4, 6-4.
“This is unbelievable,” said Frank Dancevic, the Canadian captain. “We came here not knowing what to expect. We have a great team and we had the potential to get this far, but the guys put their hearts on the line this week. They’re playing unbelievable tennis, and to clinch the doubles this way, to play so clutch, they wanted it so bad – I’m so proud of them, it’s amazing.”
Pospisil credited his fresh perspective on tennis for his outstanding run of results in Madrid after putting Canada into a 1-0 lead in their quarter-final clash with Australia.
It has been some journey for the 29-year-old in 2019, having undergone back surgery in January and worked his way back up the rankings on the Challenger circuit, with Canadian Davis Cup captain Frank Dancevic brought on board as his coach.
"We had the potential to get this far, but the guys put their hearts on the line this week"
“I’ve been playing really well this week and trying to keep the momentum going, feeling really confident,” Pospisil said. “I’m playing pretty relaxed, which is good – I’m enjoying my time on the court after being injured, which has changed my perspective a bit, and maybe that’s helped me for the last couple of months.
“I didn’t know what to expect – I’d never had surgery before. I was confident I’d get back to a high level, but it has come a little bit sooner than I’d expected. I’ve been pain free since I started training, which hasn’t happened in three or four years.”
Pospisil extended his singles record to 3-0 in Madrid with a sterling display against Millman, who came into the side for his first appearance at Caja Mágica in place of Nick Kyrgios.
The Canadian was virtually unstoppable, firing 15 aces and playing off the front foot in the rallies throughout, giving Millman no route into the match as he denied the Australian a single break point en route to a 7-6(7), 6-4 win.
It was a different story in the battle of the No.1s as De Minaur came from a set down to beat Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and level the tie at 1-1. The Australian played near-flawless tennis in the second and third sets to turn the match on its head and claim victory in the battle of the 20-year-olds.
“I knew that it was never going to be easy,” De Minaur said. “It was one of those matches where I just had to keep on going, keep trying to give myself chances, and I was finally able to get the break at the end.
“I feel like I’m playing for more than myself – I’m playing for my team-mates, I’m playing for my country. There was no chance I was going to show any negative emotion. I just needed to work hard every single point and get myself this chance, and I’m happy I was able to get the win today.”
"There was no chance I was going to show any negative emotion"
"I’ve been playing really well this week and trying to keep the momentum going"
Shapovalov had won eight of his last nine Davis Cup singles matches, including his victories over Matteo Berrettini and Taylor Fritz earlier this week, and looked set to extend his record after racing out to a 4-1 lead in the opening set.
But De Minaur converted the only break point of the second set to level up, and the errors began to creep up for the Canadian, ending at 43. After battling back from 0-40 at 4-4 in the third, Shapovalov failed to repeat the feat at 5-5, hitting his eighth double fault to leave De Minaur to serve out the win.
Recovering his composure quickly, Shapovalov swapped his black cap for white and a fresh attitude to partner Pospisil to a hard-earned doubles win, sparking joyous scenes as the Canadian bench leapt to the court.
Canada will now face either Serbia or Russia in Saturday’s semi-finals, with their potential opponents facing off in Friday’s day session at Caja Magica.
“There’s nothing quite like Davis Cup, especially when you’re playing with guys like Denis, Felix [Auger-Aliassime] and Brayden [Schnur] in your team,” Pospisil said. “The chemistry in the locker room is amazing, it’s so much fun, and we’re playing for our country so there’s a lot on the line.”
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