Denis Shapovalov overcame a loss in the opening singles match and teamed with Vasek Pospisil in a deciding doubles victory as Canada advanced to the semifinals of the Davis Cup with a 2-1 win over Germany on Thursday.
Shapovalov, of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Pospisil, of Vernon, B.C., looked out of their depth in the first set against doubles specialists Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz before turning the tables and posting a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win.
Shapovalov iced the tie when his return on match point gave the Canadians their third break of the match.
“Having Vasek is amazing. You know, not only is he unbelievable for singles but he’s so credited for doubles,” Shapovalov said.
“He’s done so well in the past and proved it time and time again why he’s such a great player. It was fun to share the court and to kind of get pumped up from each other. Definitely was awesome to get the win for Canada.”
Germany had taken a 1-0 lead in the quarterfinal tie when Jan-Lennard Struff held on to beat Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) in singles competition.
Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, the world No. 6, downed Oscar Otte 7-6 (1), 6-4 to set up the dramatic doubles finish.
Canada will face Italy in the semifinals on Saturday. Italy advanced with a 2-1 win over the United States.
Australia faces Croatia in the other semifinal. The final is Sunday.
Canada is looking to advance to the Davis Cup final for the second time in four years. A Canadian squad featuring Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil advanced to the 2019 final, where it lost 2-0 to Spain.
Germany looked to be in control after winning a singles match and forcing a doubles decider. Puetz entered the match 12-0 in Davis Cup doubles competition, while Krawietz was 11-0.
Early, the experienced German tandem took it to the Canadians. Germany went up a break early with Pospisil serving to take a 2-1 lead in the first set, and scored another to go up 5-2 when Pospisil committed a double-fault. The Germans then completed an easy hold to take the set.
But Pospisil and Shapovalov played with significantly more energy in the second set, going up a break at 3-1 after a crucial hold on Pospisil’s serve in the previous game.
The Canadians went up 5-2 after a nervy hold, with Pospisil fighting off break point and digging Canada out of a hole with back-to-back aces. After a German hold, Shapovalov served for the set and, after double-faulting on the first set point, made good on the second.
The second-set result clearly had the Canadians fired up, and it showed with an impressive break to love to go up 2-1 in the third.
His serve humming, Pospisil fired three straight aces as Canada held to go up 5-3. Then with Germany serving facing double match point, Shapovalov hit an emphatic return on a serve by Puetz to send Canada through.
“They raised their level unbelievable,” Germany captain Michael Kohlmann said. “Served huge. We couldn’t get any opportunities. In the end we have to say the Canadians then in the end played better than us and deserved to win.”
Shapovalov showed a remarkable return to form in the doubles after a wildly inconsistent singles match in which he looked alternately like a world-beater and a rookie lacking confidence — sometimes in the same game.
Struff entered the tie ranked No. 152 in the world, 124 places behind his opponent. But he had a career-high ranking of 29 in 2020 before being hampered by injuries, including a recent foot ailment that sidelined him for two months.
He looked strong in the first set, with the six-foot-four German’s wide serves giving Shapovalov trouble.
Struff took the set with his second break of the match. Shapovalov’s fifth double-fault of the match set up double set point for Struff. The Canadian saved the first set point, but Shapovalov’s seventh unforced error, a routine forehand hit wide, sealed his fate.
Shapovalov missed an opportunity early in the second set when he ended a volley by hitting wide on break point. Struff recovered to hold and take a 2-1 lead in the set.
However, the Canadian continued to press Struff, finding himself at 30-30 in every receiving game. He finally broke through with a break to go up 4-3, beating Struff at the net.
After holds by both players, Shapovalov knotted the tie at 1-1 on his second set point with his 10th ace of the match.
Shapovalov’s serving woes came back in the third set, when he hit two double-faults to give Struff a 3-1 lead. Shapovalov fought back to break with Struff serving for the match, but he ran out of magic in the ensuing tiebreaker.
Struff improved to 6-3 in his career against Shapovalov.
Auger-Aliassime had his strong serve working for him early in the match, firing three aces in the third game alone to take a 2-1 lead. He held all his service games, facing just one break point.
Otte would not go quietly. While not as dominant on serve as Auger-Aliassime, he still fought off three break points and denied Auger-Aliassime an opportunity to break the game open.
Auger-Aliassime finally broke Otte down and demonstrated his quality by dominating the first-set tiebreak. Setting up set point by winning points on three of Otte’s four serves, the Canadian put the set away with his ninth ace.
The Canadian got a break to go up 4-3 in the set, and that was all he needed. Auger-Aliassime served to love in the final game, setting up match point with his 15th ace.
“I felt like when the ball was in play and I was able to construct the rallies, I was winning more rallies than he did,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He’s in the top, I don’t know, 50 or something like that, so any player of that ranking can be dangerous on a given day. I had to be careful and I had to stay sharp.”