Auger-Aliassime wins Davis Cup decider to lead Canada past Slovakia

Felix Auger Aliassime was all smiles after a massive Davis Cup win, with his friend Denis Shapovalov joining in on the celebration.

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime lifted Canada into the Davis Cup finals, downing Norbert Gombos of Slovakia 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday to win the best-of-five tie 3-2.

It was the second win of the day in three matches for the Canadians, who trailed 2-1 in the tie after losing the doubles match 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to open Saturday’s action.

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., forced the deciding fifth rubber when he defeated Martin Klizan 7-6 (4), 6-4, giving Montreal’s Auger-Aliassime the chance to close it out.

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime played all five of Canada’s matches, including a split of Friday’s singles matches.

"For my part that’s what you have to learn as a player," Auger-Aliassime said of rebounding from the doubles loss earlier in the day and his singles loss on Friday. "Every week you play matches so you get tough losses and you have to bounce back and the same thing this weekend.

"I lost (in singles on Friday), it doesn’t mean the tie is over. It didn’t really affect my confidence. … We were still in the tie and we believed until the end. So good effort from us."

The 19-year-old Shapovalov is ranked No. 25. Auger-Aliassime, who doesn’t turn 19 until August, is the youngest player in the top 200 at No. 106.

Auger-Aliassime, making his Davis Cup debut during the two-day event at NTC Arena, broke Gombos for a 5-4 lead in the second set and held serve to win it.

Shapovalov said he had no doubt his young Canadian teammate could pull off the victory.

"If he comes out playing his game he’s very powerful and a very tough player to play against, so I’m very confident," Shapovalov said before Auger-Aliassime’s match.

A jubilant Canadian team, led by Auger-Aliassime draped in a Canada flag, climbed into the stands after his win to celebrate with fans.

Auger-Aliassime won 82 per cent of his first-service points and converted on 2-of-4 break points against his 255th-ranked opponent. The match lasted one hour 29 minutes.

Canada will play the Davis Cup finals in Madrid in November.

"We’re going to for sure celebrate with the team tonight. It’s important after these moments," Auger-Aliassime said.

Shapovalov needed one hour 45 minutes to dispatch the No. 38 Klizan earlier Saturday, firing six aces and 22 total winners and winning 70 per cent of his first-service games.

Shapovalov gave Canada an early edge in the series on Friday, beating Filip Horansky in the first singles match. But Klizan downed Auger-Aliassime to knot the clay-court series at a win apiece and the Slovakians beat the young Canadians in doubles in the first match Saturday.

"It’s definitely physically tough to play after a doubles match, I think we were both feeling it on the court," Shapovalov said. "I had a little trouble getting into (Saturday’s singles match) but once I got into it the adrenaline really took me and I felt really fresh.

"So physical-wise I’m very happy and mentally I stayed very sharp, I played very well. The level of tennis was very high. It was a game of inches and today I was able to capitalize enough to win the match."

It was the first time Slovakia and Canada had met in a Davis Cup since 1997. Slovakia won that meeting 4-1 in Montreal.

The 19-year-old Shapovalov is ranked No. 25. Auger-Aliassime, who doesn’t turn 19 until August, is the youngest player in the top 200 at No. 106.

Auger-Aliassime, making his Davis Cup debut during the two-day event at NTC Arena, broke Gombos for a 5-4 lead in the second set and held serve to win it.

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