Canada’s Vasek Pospisil upset this year’s Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini 7-6 7-5 after 1 hour and 48 minutes in the opening match of the Group F at the 2019 Davis Cup Final at the Caja Magica in Madrid.
Pospisil, who replaced Felix Auger Aliassime, earned the first break of the match in the fourth game after two double faults and a backhand error from Fognini. Pospisil saved the first of the two break points he faced, but Fognini broke back on his second chance after a backhand error from the Canadian player. Fognini did not convert two break points at 5-5.
Pospisil earned his only mini-break at 5-4 before closing out the first set on his second set point with a backhand passing shot, when Fognini hit a backhand into the net.
Fognini saved a break point at 1-1 in a hard-fought third game, when Pospisil made a forehand error. Pospisil brought up three break points at 5-5. Fognini saved the first two chances with his serve, but he dropped his serve on the third chance, when he hit his backhand into the net. Pospisil served out the match at 15 in the 12th game.
Pospisil is now ranked world number 150 in the world after missing half the season, while he was recovering from back surgery.
“I worked hard to get back here from surgery. Since then I have come back with a fresh perspective on the sport. Eight months ago I was thinking if I would ever be playing at this level again, but I am playing at a higher level much faster than I expected”, said Pospisil.
PREVIEW: Vasek Pospisil Looking To Lead Canada At Davis Cup Finals
The Canadian will look to lead his team one step further after reaching the final in Madrid back in 2019.
It’s not an ideal situation when two of your best players decide not to play and represent their country but that is what has happened to Canada with both Felix Auger Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
Both players citing the need for rest after a long and taxing season that literally gives them less than two months to rest and recuperate before the off-season preparations and a trip down under for the Australian tennis season.
Pospisil leads a team with Brayden Schnur, Peter Polansky and replacement Steven Diez. While on paper all players are ranked outside the top 100 Canada still has good chances of getting past the group stage.
In their way are Sweden and Kazakhstan. They will open their tournament on Thursday in Madrid against the Swedes before facing the Kazaks on Sunday morning at the Madrid Arena.
Once again two wins will be needed and it will be a busy week for Pospisil who will be called upon to play singles and doubles, which has been confirmed by team captain Frank Dancevic.
The million-dollar question is who will be Canada’s number two singles player and who will play with the Vernon, BC native? Dancevic is yet to confirm this.
Schnur was an alternate player on the team last time, Polansky wasn’t even called upon and it’s been 10 years since Diez even represented his country so the experience isn’t there.
But then again anything can happen in Davis Cup and looking at the other teams Sweden will use Elias and Mikael Ymer while Kazakhstan will rely on the highest-ranked player in the group Alexander Bublik with teammate Mikhael Kukushin.
It’s all to play for in the Spanish capital and Canada is coming off an incredible run in 2019 which ended up in them losing to Spain in the final where they were able to show the world they are here to play.
Canada suffers massive blow as Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime pull out of Davis Cup
The two tennis stars cited fatigue and injury as the reason why they have chosen not to play in the team event.
Canada will be without its top two players as they head to Madrid for the Davis Cup Finals.
After losing in the Stockholm Open final at the weekend, Denis Shapovalov made it official that he was pulling out of the Davis Cup Finals citing he needed to rest and take time off.
“Unfortunately, I will not take part in the Davis Cup Finals,” Shapovalov said in a statement. “It’s always a pleasure and an honor for me to represent my country in the Davis Cup, but I need some rest in the offseason.”
Shortly after Felix Auger Aliassime also released a statement confirming that he was pulling out as well due to a nagging injury and also stated he needed some time off as well.
So far Canada has only called up Steven Diez as a replacement for the team that currently has Vasek Pospisil, Peter Polansky, and Brayden Schnur. It is a massive blow for a team that looked like a heavy favorite.
Team captain Frank Dancevic also commentated on the situation by saying he understands why both players have decided not to play.
“We know that Félix and Denis have always made the Davis Cup one of their top priorities since the beginning of their professional careers, and even before that since they had won the Junior Davis Cup for Canada in 2015,” said Dancevic. “But it’s been a long and even more trying season due to the protocols and measures put in place to help combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and we completely understand their decision.’
“We know that we can count on Félix and Denis’ support and leadership in the years to come. That said, we are delighted to have Steven (Diez) join us for the Finals. Although Steven doesn’t have much Davis Cup experience, he has proven time and time again that he’s an incredible team player and that he’s able to adapt to various situations.”
Diez, who is 30 years old, has only played Davis Cup once before which was 11 years ago back in 2010 in a Group 1 semi-final tie against Columbia. His career-high ranking was 134 in 2019 and his best result was making the final of an ATP Challenger event in Spain.
The Davis Cup Finals will be held in Madrid, Innsbruck, and Turin beginning on the 25th of November. Canada will be based in Madrid in a group with Sweden and Kazakhstan.
Canada faces Sweden on the 25th and Kazakhstan on the 28th of November. The last time around made the final back in 2019 before losing to Spain.
Novak Djokovic Leads Quartet Of To 10 Players Set To Play Davis Cup Finals
Here is a full list of players who have been nominated to play in the team event next month.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic will lead Serbia in the Davis Cup Finals once again after getting officially nominated for the event on Monday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in the final of the US Open but had previously expressed his desire to play in the team event. Djokovic will be the only top 20 player participating in Group F with both Austria and Germany missing their top players. Dominic Thiem is still recovering from injury and Alexander Zverev has said he would not play in protest of the changes made to the Davis Cup in recent years.
Djokovic, who has won three out of the four major events this season, is expected to play in both the Paris Masters and ATP Finals prior to the Davis Cup. He was instrumental in guiding his country to glory in the team competition back in 2010 which was the first and only time they have won the title.
Russia boasts a strong team with both US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and world No.6 Andrey Rublev getting the nod. Making them the only team in the event to feature two top 10 players. Unlike other countries, they will be called the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) in the tournament. This is due to a previous WADA and CAS ruling against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency over the country’s involvement in state-sponsored doping during multiple Olympic Games.
Italy, who hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 1976, will be headlined by Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini. Joining him in the team will be Jannik Sinner, Lorenzo Sonego, Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Musetti. The Italians have the advantage of playing their group ties on home ground in Turin which is the same city which will hold the ATP Finals. They will take on America and Colombia.
It is possible that some nominations for the Davis Cup could change in the coming weeks. French captain Sebastien Grosjean told reporters that it is possible he may include Gael Monfils in the team should he produce some good results on the Tour. Meanwhile, Andy Murray isn’t ruling out taking part.
“Never say never, maybe I could be convinced to play,” The Times newspaper quoted Murray as saying on Monday.
The Davis Cup Finals will take place between November 25 – December 5th. The group and quarter-finals ties will be held across Europe in Madrid, Turin and Innsbruck. Then the semi-finals and final will be held in Madrid. Each Group tie will consist of three matches – two singles and one doubles.
List of team nominations
Group A – Madrid, Spain
Pablo Carreno Busta
Roberto Bautista Agut
Captain: Sergi Bruguera
Captain: Shamil Tarpischev
Captain: Raul Viver
Group B – Madrid, Spain
Captain: Frank Dancevic
Captain: Yuriy Schukin
Captain: Robin Soderling
Group C – Innsbruck, Austria
Captain: Sebastien Grosjean
Captain: Leon Smith
Captain: Jaroslav Navratil
Group D – Turin, Italy
Captain: Vedran Martic
Alex de Minaur
Captain: Lleyton Hewitt
Captain: Gabor Koves
Group E – Turin, Italy
Captain: Mardy Fish
Captain: Filippo Volandri
Juan Sebastian Cabal
Captain: Alejandro Falla
Group F – Innsbruck, Austria
Captain: Viktor Troicki
Jan Lennard Struff
Captain: Michael Kohlmann
Captain: Stefan Koube
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