Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov sent Canada to its first ATP Cup final on Saturday when they defeated Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 to complete their country’s 2-1 win against Russia. Two-time finalist Spain awaits in Sunday’s championship tie.
The Canadians lost their first four matches of the competition, putting their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds in deep trouble. If the United States had beaten Great Britain in the Match Tie-break of their deciding doubles on Thursday, Canada would have been eliminated before playing their third match.
But Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov have taken full advantage of their opportunities in Sydney. Their excitement for the moment showed after Shapovalov poached to hit a winning short backhand volley on match point. The longtime friends leapt into each other’s arms to celebrate.
Despite some scratchy baseline mistakes in his singles match, which carried into the doubles, Auger-Aliassime carved a stunning backhand drop volley at 6/5 in the Match Tie-Break. The World No. 11 double-faulted on his first match point at 9/6 and missed his first serve at 9/7, but they battled through after one hour and 38 minutes.
Medvedev and Safiullin had been 3-0 in doubles this week. Russia went 3-0 as a team in Group B action, but fell just a few points short of returning to the final
Shapovalov got the tie off to a good start for Canada when he clawed past Safiullin in a two-hour, 39-minute thriller at No. 2 singles. Medvedev then levelled the tie with a comprehensive victory against Auger-Aliassime at No. 1 singles.