Felix Auger-Aliassime breathed life into Team Canada’s ATP Cup bid Tuesday, edging Cameron Norrie 7-6(4), 6-3 to level its tie against Great Britain at 1-1 in Group C here.
Following Canada’s defeat to the United States in its opening tie and Denis Shapovalov’s loss to Daniel Evans earlier on Tuesday, Canada faced elimination from the 16-team event if Auger-Aliassime did not defeat Norrie.
However, with the pressure on, the World No. 11, who is making his second ATP Cup appearance, delivered as he struck heavy, powerful forehands to pin Norrie behind the baseline to triumph after one hour and 59 minutes.
“I am happy with the win,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “Stepping onto the court against a player like Cam, who plays really well. You try to find a way to win and the most important thing at the end of the day is the victory. I am happy to keep the team alive, but the work is not done.”
A doubles match will now decide the tie on Ken Rosewall Arena, with Great Britain aiming to make it two wins from two, after beating Germany in its opening Group C tie.
In an entertaining match, Auger-Aliassime aimed to hit through Norrie from the baseline with his heavy groundstrokes. The Canadian fired 18 winners in the first set but had to be patient, with Norrie saving seven set points, including four in the tie-break, before Auger-Aliassime finally sealed the set with a smash.
The 21-year-old continued to play aggressively in the second set as he outmanoeuvred Norrie from the baseline. Auger-Aliassime broke twice in the second set to earn Canada its first ATP Cup win of the tournament.
Earlier, Evans continued to lead the way for Great Britain at ATP Cup, overcoming Shapovalov 6-4, 6-4 to maintain his perfect start to the season to give Great Britain a 1-0 advantage against Canada.
The 31-year-old, who earned decisive singles and doubles wins against Germany on Sunday, played consistently and used his backhand slice to great effect throughout to disrupt Shapovalov, triumphing after 82 minutes.
“I love representing my country,” Evans said in his on-court interview. “It is the best thing you can do in any sport in my opinion. It is amazing to be out here with fans, to have all the guys screaming, whoever you are screaming for, it has been great.”
The World No. 25 now holds a 5-1 ATP Cup singles record and leads Shapovalov 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. Evans, who did not face a breakpoint against Shapovalov, has had previous success in Australia, having captured his maiden tour-level title at the Murray River Open in Melbourne last year.
“I think on my service games I try to be aggressive and manoeuvre [the ball] and then on his service games, if I have to, I hang back a bit and tonight was a good opportunity to defend a bit more and frustrate him,” Evans said.