Tennis

Canada's Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov achieve childhood dream with first Davis Cup title

MALAGA Spain: Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov fulfilled a childhood dream on Sunday as they sealed tennis history for Canada with a first Davis Cup title by beating Australia 2-0 in Malaga.

World number six Auger-Aliassime eased past Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-4 to give Canada the trophy in Sunday's final at the expense of 28-time winners Australia.

Earlier Shapovalov had given Canada, beaten finalists in 2019 to Spain, the first point with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Thanasi Kokkinakis.

"The emotions are tough to describe, said 22-year-old Auger-Aliassime.

"Denis and I grew up together dreaming of these types of stage, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It's a great moment for myself and for the country."

De Minaur, ranked 24, paid for failing to convert any of his eight break points, hitting just five winners as Australia played their first Davis Cup final since 2003. Auger-Aliassime relied on his consistent serve with six aces and solid baseline play.

Shapovalov meanwhile was fuelled by his desire for a first singles win this week.

"Two tough losses this week and I'm very happy with the way I played today to get the win," said the 23-year-old.

"It helped me being in the final before. Last time it was all kind of new, we were relieved just to be there but today we're very much going for the trophy."

The 18th-ranked Canadian had been out of sorts in a semi-final defeat to Italy on Saturday but hit back against Kokkinakis with 23 winners to the Australian's five.

Shapovalov raced to a 4-0 lead after quarter of an hour in Malaga, sealing the first set with his ninth winner after half an hour.

The Canadian staved off three break points in the fourth game of the second set.

Kokkinakis dug in to convert his first break point of four when Shapovalov was serving for the match and held serve but the Canadian was not to be denied sealing victory on his second match point.

"It was tough to lose in 2019, it was an empty feeling and we wanted it badly this time, said Shapovalov.

Canada had come a long way since they were eliminated in qualifying by the Netherlands back in March before being handed a wild card into the finals after the exclusion of Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine.

Canada then finished second in Group B behind Spain in September, before eliminating Germany in the quarter-finals (2-1) and Italy in the semi-finals (2-1) earlier this week.

On Sunday, Canada's 2-0 unassailable lead meant that the final doubles rubber did not need to be played.

"We've been dreaming about this for several years," said 32-year-old doubles specialist Vasek Pospisil.

"To be here as world champions I'm speechless. These guys are not kids any more. They've been crushing it. You can't win this event without tremendous team chemistry." -- AFP

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