After surprising Italy yesterday, 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 to enter the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, which are underway at Caja Magica in Madrid until November 24.
For the second showdown, Frank Dancevic once again chose Denis Shapovalov (Richmond Hill, ON) and Vasek Pospisil (Vernon, BC) to play in singles. US captain Mardy Fish brought in Taylor Fritz (No. 32) 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 6’11” opponent. 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. To be honest, my goal was to finish the year healthy,” said Pospisil afterwards. “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 Taylor Fritz in two sets (7-6(6), 6-3). The Canadian No.1 was constant at the baseline and managed to avoid Fritz’s forehand. Shapovalov started out with a breakpoint, but the American battled back all the way to a tiebreaker—the fourth the Canadian had to play in as many sets this week. After taking the first set, a confident Shapovalov coasted to victory.
“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,” affirmed Shapovalov. “I felt like today I was struggling with my serve a little bit but I felt solid from the grounds and also with my returns. Hopefully, I can keep that up and bring it to the quarterfinals.”
“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,” revealed 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 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. At the time of writing, Belgium had defeated Colombia 2-1 and Australia vanquished Colombia 3-0.