Overcoming an opening singles match loss, Denis Shapovalov teamed up with Vasek Pospisil in a decisive doubles win as Canada progressed to the semi-finals of the Davis Cup with a 2-1 victory over Germany on Thursday.
Shapovalov, of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Pospisil, of Vernon, BC, looked out of their depth in the first set against doubles specialists Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz before turning the tables to post a 2-6, 6-3, 6. -3 win.
Shapovalov secured a tie as his return on match point gave the Canadians their third break of the game.
“He’s done so well in the past and proved time and time again why he’s such a great player. It’s been fun sharing the field and helping each other up. It was absolutely amazing to get the win for Canada. ” “
Germany had taken a 1-0 lead in the quarterfinals as Jan-Lennard Struff beat Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) in singles.
Felix Auger-Aliassime from Montreal, the number 6 in the world, defeated Oscar Otte 7-6 (1), 6-4 to set up a dramatic doubles match.
Canada will meet Italy in the semi-final on Saturday. Italy advanced with a 2-1 victory over the United States.
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In the other semi-final, Australia will meet Croatia. The final is Sunday.
Canada wants to advance to the Davis Cup final for the second time in four years. A Canadian side featuring Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil advanced to the 2019 final, where they lost 2-0 to Spain.
Germany appeared to be in control after winning a singles match and forcing a doubles decider. Puetz entered the game 12-0 in the Davis Cup doubles competition, while Krawietz was 11-0.
Early on, the experienced German tandem went to the Canadians. Germany went into a break early with Pospisil serving to take a 2–1 lead in the first set, then scoring another to go up 5–2 when Pospisil committed a double fault. The Germans then made an easy hold to take the set.
‘They have raised their level’
But Pospisil and Shapovalov played with considerably more energy in the second set, going a break at 3-1 after a crucial hold on Pospisil’s serve in the previous game.
The Canadians went up 5-2 on a nervous hold, with Pospisil hitting the break point and dug Canada out of a hole with back-to-back aces. After a German hold, Shapovalov served for the set and, after a double fault on the first set point, made good on the second.
The result of the second set clearly had the Canadians excited, and it showed with an impressive break to love to go up 2-1 in the third.
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Humming his serve, Pospisil fired three consecutive aces as Canada held on to go up 5-3. When Germany served to double match point, Shapovalov hit an emphatic return on a serve from Puetz to send Canada through.
“They have raised their level incredibly,” said Germany captain Michael Kohlmann. “We served a lot. We didn’t get any chances. In the end we have to say that the Canadians played better than us in the end and deserved to win.”
Struff came in tied for world No. 152, 124 spots behind his opponent. But he had a career-high ranking of 29 in 2020 before he was hampered by injuries, including a recent foot injury that sidelined him for two months.
He looked strong in the first set, with the wide serve from the six-foot-tall German Shapovalov getting into trouble.
Struff took the set with his second break of the match. Shapovalov’s fifth double foul of the game gave Struff a double set point. The Canadian saved the first set point, but Shapovalov’s seventh unforced error, a routine forehand wide, sealed his fate.
Shapovalov missed an opportunity early in the second set when he ended a volley by hitting wide on break point. Struff recovered to take a 2–1 lead in the set.
‘I had to stay sharp’
However, the Canadian continued to put pressure on Struff and was at 30-30 in every receiving game. He finally broke through with a break to go 4-3 up and beat Struff at the net.
After holding by both players, Shapovalov tied the score at 1-1 on his second set point with his 10th ace of the match.
Shapovalov’s service problems returned in the third set, when he hit two double faults to give Struff a 3–1 lead. Shapovalov fought back to break with Struff serving for the match, but he ran out of magic in the ensuing tiebreak.
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Struff improved to a career-high 6–3 against Shapovalov.
Auger-Aliassime had his strong serve working for him early in the match, scoring three aces in the third game alone to take a 2–1 lead. He held all of his service games and conceded only one break point.
Auger-Aliassime finally broke Otte and demonstrated his quality by dominating the first set tiebreak. Setting up the set point by winning runs on three of Otte’s four serves, the Canadian put away the set with his ninth ace.
The Canadian got a break to go up 4-3 in the set, which was all he needed. Auger-Aliassime served to love in the final game and secured match point with his 15th ace.
“I felt that when the ball was in play and I was able to build up the rallies, I was winning more rallies than him,” said Auger-Aliassime. “He’s in the top, I don’t know, 50 or something, so any player in that ranking can be dangerous on any given day. I had to be careful and stay sharp.”