Canada falls to Croatia at Davis Cup after Shapovalov loss

Canada's Denis Shapovalov looks on from behind a towel. (Justin Tang/CP)

OSIJEK, Croatia — Canada’s hopes of a Davis Cup World Group run ended Sunday with a Denis Shapovalov loss to Borna Coric.

The 18-year-old Shapovalov from Richmond Hill, Ont., fell 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to the 21-year-old Coric, handing Croatia a 3-1 victory in the best-of-five, first-round tie.

Coric, ranked 47th on the ATP Tour, fired five aces and won 3-of-7 break points.

The 48th-ranked Shapovalov won just 60 per cent of his first service points and 68 per cent on his second serve. He had 12 forced errors and 59 unforced.

"He’s more experienced than me in clay, he grew up on it and it showed," Shapovalov said. "He played unbelievable. I tried to stay close to him hoping for an opportunity but credits to him he never dropped his level.

"I thought I actually played well but it wasn’t enough today."

Shapovalov won Canada’s lone match of the tie — a singles victory against Viktor Galovic on Friday that evened the series at 1-1.

Shapovalov was not only the youngest member of Canada’s Davis Cup team but also its highest ranked singles player. Vasek Pospisil is 85th and Peter Polansky is 141st. Daniel Nestor is 60th in the doubles rankings.

Nestor, who lost his doubles match Saturday with Pospisil, was playing in his Canadian-record 52nd Davis Cup tie. The 45-year-old is set to retire following this season.

Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., was serving as captain of Canada’s Davis Cup team for the first time. He took over from Martin Laurendeau, who held the role since 2004.

"We were so close to winning that (doubles) match yesterday and it could have changed a lot today’s match," Dancevic said. "Borna would have had a lot more pressure but today he was very relaxed and comfortable.

"Denis did everything he could do today, he tried to change a few things in his game, but Borna pushed him to make mistakes."

No. 5-ranked Croatia, which had lost five of its last six Davis Cup ties heading into the series against Canada, will face Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals.

Canada has not won a road tie since 2011.

The Canadians, ranked No. 15 in Davis Cup, will play the World Group playoffs in September to try to stay among the top 16 nations in the world for 2019.

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