Canada’s Raonic, Diallo get singles nods for Davis Cup vs. Finland

Rob Faulds and Robert Bettauer discuss the breaking news that Felix Auger-Aliassime will sit out of their Davis Cup match vs. Finland, and discuss what roster they will employ in their quarter-final bout.

An injury to Canadian singles star Felix Auger-Aliassime forced captain Frank Dancevic to tinker with his lineup for Tuesday’s quarterfinal against Finland at the Davis Cup Final 8.

Auger-Aliassime, who clinched the victory for Canada in last year’s final against Australia, was dealing with a “lower-body issue,” a Tennis Canada spokesman said in an email. 

Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., was given the nod for the opening singles match against Patrick Kaukovalta at the Martin Carpena Arena. Montreal’s Gabriel Diallo was to play Otto Virtanen in the other singles match.

At No. 29, Montreal’s Auger-Aliassime is the lone Canadian player ranked in the top 100. He hasn’t been ruled out to play later in the week should Canada advance, the federation spokesman said.

Finland’s highest-ranked singles player — No. 69 Emil Ruusuvuori — was also out of the lineup. It wasn’t immediately clear why he was not available.

Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., were tabbed to close out the best-of-three tie in doubles against Harri Heliovaara and Patrik Niklas-Salminen.

The winning team will advance to Friday’s semifinal against the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Czechia and Australia. 

In the bottom half of the Final 8 draw, Italy will play the Netherlands and Serbia will take on Britain. The final was scheduled for Sunday.

Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., led the Canadian team to its first-ever Davis Cup title last year. Shapovalov is not playing this week as he’s still recovering from a knee injury.

Auger-Aliassime reached a career-best No. 6 last year but his ranking has slipped due to a middling 2023 campaign. However, he showed strong form in successfully defending his Swiss Indoors title last month in Basel.

Raonic, who played a handful of tour events this season after an extended injury absence, is ranked No. 318 in the world. 

The former world No. 3 showed he can still hang at the top level when he upset American Frances Tiafoe — then ranked 10th in the world — at the National Bank Open in Toronto last summer. 

Diallo, an up-and-coming player who has enjoyed success on the lower-level Challenger circuit this season, is the world No. 139. 

Finland is making its first Davis Cup quarterfinal appearance. Virtanen is ranked 170th in the world and Kaukovalta is well back at No. 782.

Canada beat Finland 4-1 in 1966 on outdoor clay at Helsinki in their only previous Davis Cup matchup.

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