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Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime give Canada first-ever Davis Cup title

Oh, Canada!

For the first time in history, Canada is the champion of the Davis Cup. The Canadians swept Australia 2-0 in the final on Sunday afternoon in Malaga, Spain behind the two players who have been leading the way for them over the past few years, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Both rising stars prevailed in straight sets, making amends for their singles losses in the 2019 Davis Cup final against Spain.

Shapovalov opened with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis. That gave Auger-Aliassime the opportunity to clinch, and Canada’s MVP from start to finish of these Davis Cup Finals was not about to let his chance slip away. The world No. 6 played a near-flawless match to defeat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime saved all eight of the break points he faced, three in the first set and five in the second. He held from 15-40 down to begin the second, came back from 0-40 down at 3-2, and served out the match from 0-30 down at 5-4.

“The emotions are tough to describe,” Auger-Aliassime commented afterward. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

The Canadians came close in 2019, but Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut were too good for Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov. Now Canada is past the final hurdle.

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov added. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

“This is a historic moment,” said captain Frank Dancevic. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Australia was bidding for its first title since 2003. The team led by de Minaur, Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Max Purcell, and Matthew Ebden was captained by Lleyton Hewitt, who as a player led Australia to the final in 2001 and to the title in 2003.

“I’m gutted for the boys,” Hewitt admitted. “You know, they put in their commitment and the work, and they did everything right. They have done absolutely everything all year that we have asked of them as a coaching staff. It’s not about me or the coaches. We just are trying to help these guys get the most out of themselves. We’re just extremely proud of the effort and the commitment and dedication that these guys have shown.

“They left it all out there once again. We came up slightly short, but I couldn’t be prouder.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.