Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov guided Canada to its maiden ATP Cup final, defeating world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 to complete their country’s 2-1 win against Russia here on Saturday.
Canada will meet two-time finalists Spain in Sunday’s final clash.
The Canadians lost their first four matches of the competition, putting their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds in trouble. If the United States had beaten Great Britain in the Match Tie-break of their deciding doubles on January 6, Canada would have been eliminated before playing their third match.
But Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov have taken full advantage of the opportunities in Sydney. Their excitement showed after Shapovalov hit a winning backhand volley on match point. The two leapt into each other’s arms to celebrate.
“Felix did an amazing job. I had a little bit of a slow start, had trouble returning, but we did a good job to fight,” Shapovalov told atptour.com.
“Felix played unbelievable in the game to break and then in the (Match) Tie-break as well, just making them play so much. It was awesome. We kept fighting. We have great team chemistry, team spirit, so it helped us a lot.”
Despite some baseline errors 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.
Shapovalov got the tie off to a good start for Canada when he got past Safiullin in a two-hour, 39-minute thriller at No. 2 singles. Medvedev then levelled the tie with a victory against Auger-Aliassime at No. 1 singles.
“I had to try and stay positive. Of course it was tough, especially (because) that second set went the way it went in singles,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Denis helped me and the team to push myself. We had a tough start in the doubles, so to be able to come back in this way, it’s really a team effort.
“That’s what the ATP Cup is about. You can still win after being 1-all and losing a tough singles. It’s really about the team effort and we’re happy to be through. We’re really thrilled for the whole team.”
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are 1-1 on the week as a team, including a deciding doubles victory against doubles standouts Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury in group play.
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.