Gritty performances from Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov led Canada to a 2-1 victory over Italy in group stage play at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid on Monday night.
Things got off to a rocky start for Canada as Felix Auger-Aliassime, who was penciled in for the first singles match of the day, was forced to withdraw with a nagging ankle injury.
Stepping in as a last minute replacement, 150th-ranked Pospisil lived up to the moment, dispatching No. 12 Fabio Fognini by a score of 7-6 (5), 7-5. The underdog’s victory set the stage for Canada’s dominant day on the court.
The second singles match of the day saw both nations send out their top-ranked players as No. 15 Shapovalov took on No. 8 Matteo Berrettini. The Canadian narrowly edged the Italian in a back-and-forth affair, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(5), to officially claim the win for Canada in the best-of-three matchup.
The third and final match of the day was a doubles affair with Pospisil and Shapovalov once again suiting up for Canada against Italy’s Fognini and Berrettini. Understandably fatigued from their earlier matches, the Canadians fell in three sets of 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
With the 2-1 victory, Canada has put themselves in a good position to advance to the next round. In this new Davis Cup Finals format, the top seed from each of the six groups will advance to the quarterfinals, along with the two highest-ranked second seeds.
Canada’s next best-of-three matchup comes against the United States on Tuesday, with a win guaranteeing the Canadians a berth in the quarterfinals.