Davis Cup: Canada beat Germany to advance to the semifinals

Canadian Press

Published Thursday, November 24, 2022 7:02 PM EST

Last Updated Thursday, November 24, 2022 20:44 EST

MALAGA, Spain – Denis Shapovalov overcame defeat in his opening singles match and teamed up with Vasek Pospisil in a decisive double win as Canada advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals with a 2-1 win over Germany on Thursday.

Shapovalov, of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Pospisil, of Vernon, BC, battled through the first set against doubles specialist Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz before turning things around and posting a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win.

Shapovalov froze the match when his comeback on match point gave Canada their third break of the match.

“Having Vasek was great. You know, he’s not only amazing in singles but he’s also been praised in doubles,” said Shapovalov.

“He did very well in the past and proved time and time again why he is a great player. It’s great to share the field and get excited about each other. It’s been great to get the win for Canada.”

Germany were 1-0 up in their quarter-final tie as Jan-Lennard Struff held on to beat Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) in the singles competition.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, the world number 6, defeated Oscar Otte 7-6(1), 6-4 to set up a dramatic doubles finish.

Canada will face Italy in the semifinals on Saturday. Italy advanced with a 2-1 win over the United States.

Australia faces Croatia in the other semifinal. The finals are Sunday.

Canada is looking to advance to the Davis Cup final for the second time in four years. The Canadian squad featuring Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil advanced to the 2019 final, where they lost 2-0 to Spain.

Germany looked in control after winning the singles match and forcing a double decider. Puetz entered the match 12-0 in the Davis Cup doubles competition, while Krawietz was 11-0.

Initially, an experienced German tandem brought him to Canada. The Germans broke early with Pospisil serving for a 2-1 lead in the first set, and scored another goal to go 5-2 up when Pospisil double faulted. Germany then completed an easy hold to take the set.

But Pospisil and Shapovalov played with much more energy in the second set, breaking at 3-1 after holding Pospisil’s crucial serve in the previous game.

Canada went up 5-2 after a nervous defending, with Pospisil fighting break points and digging Canada out of the hole with back-to-back aces. After the Germans held on, Shapovalov served for the set and, after double faulting in the first set point, made a great second set.

The result of the second set certainly had the Canadians fired up, and it showed with an impressive break to go 2-1 up in the third.

His serve hummed, Pospisil fired three straight aces as Canada held on for a 5-3 lead. Then with Germany’s serve facing double match points, Shapovalov returned decisively from Puetz to send Canada through.

“They raised their level tremendously,” said Germany captain Michael Kohlmann. “Great served. We couldn’t get any chances. In the end we have to say that Canada ultimately outplayed us and deserved to win.”

Shapovalov displayed a remarkable return to appearances in doubles after highly inconsistent singles matches in which he appeared to alternate between world beater and insecure rookie – sometimes in the same game.

Struff entered the match ranked No. 152 worlds, 124 places behind his opponent. But he had a career-high ranking of 29th in 2020 before being hampered by injuries, including a recent leg ailment that sidelined him for two months.

He looked strong in the first set, with the six-foot-four German’s wide serve giving Shapovalov trouble.

Struff took the set with his second break of the match. Shapovalov’s fifth double fault of the match resulted in a double set point for Struff. The Canadian saved the first set point but Shapovalov’s seventh unforced error, a routine forehand that went wide, sealed his fate.

Shapovalov squandered an early chance in the second set when he finished his volley wide on a break point. Struff recovered to hold on and took a 2-1 lead in the set.

However, the Canadian kept Struff under pressure, finding herself at 30-30 in every receiving match. He finally broke through on the break to go up 4-3, beating Struff at the net.

After being restrained by both players, Shapovalov leveled it at 1-1 in his second set point with his 10th ace of the game.

Shapovalov’s serve errors returned in the third set, when he hit two double faults to put Struff 3-1 up. Shapovalov fought back to break Struff for the match, but he ran out of magic in the ensuing tiebreaker.

Struff improved to 6-3 in his career against Shapovalov.

Auger-Aliassime’s strong serve worked for him early in the match, hitting three aces in the third game on his own to take a 2-1 lead. He defended all of his service games, facing only one break point.

Otte will not leave quietly. Despite not being as dominant on serve as Auger-Aliassime, he still struggled from three break points and denied Auger-Aliassime any chance to open the game.

Auger-Aliassime finally broke Otte’s serve and showed his quality by dominating the first set tiebreaker. Setting up the set point by winning on three of Otte’s four serves, the Canadian ended the set with her ninth ace.

The Canadian got a break to go 4-3 in the set, and that was all she needed. Auger-Aliassime served a love serve in the final game, setting up match point with his 15th ace.

“I feel when the ball is in play and I am able to build rallies, I win more rallies than him,” said Auger-Aliassime. “He’s in the top, I don’t know, 50 or something, so any player with that rating can be dangerous on any day. I have to be careful and I have to stay sharp.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022.

Hadwin Floyd

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