Davis Cup takeaways: Canada is officially a tennis powerhouse

Canada's Felix Auger Aliassime, right, celebrates with teammate after defeating Australia's Alex de Minaur during the final Davis Cup tennis match between Australia and Canada in Malaga, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (Joan Monfort/AP)

It is a landmark moment in Canadian tennis.

Canada captured its first Davis Cup title in team history, defeating the Australians 2-0 to cap a fantastic week from Malaga, Spain.

Denis Shapovalov opened the finals tie with a straight sets victory, before fellow compatriot Felix Auger-Aliassime would seal the title, defeating Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-4.

It’s the second international trophy for Canada in 2022 as they opened the season with a victory at the ATP Cup team event from Australia. Here are four takeaways from Canada’s historic win:

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Felix is still flying

Felix Auger-Aliassime would be more than forgiven for showing signs of fatigue.

The Canadian has played 87 singles matches this season, the most of any player on tour in 2022.

The world no. 6 was the nation’s top player and arguably the best at the event this week in Malaga, producing three decisive singles wins and teaming up with Vasek Pospisil to win a crucial doubles rubber against Italy.

Auger-Aliassime won all eight sets of tennis he played, using aggressive and precise shot making from the back of the court, looking comfortable and at ease at net, and dominating on serve.

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In the finals against Alex de Minaur, he turned aside all eight break points held by the Australian, even rallying from down 0-40 at 2-1 in the second set.

The 22-year-old has closed out his 2022 winning three ATP titles, qualifying for the ATP Finals in Turin, and has now led Canada to a first ever Davis Cup crown.

He’ll head to Monte Carlo, Monaco to begin his pre-season with undoubtedly high expectations for 2023.

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Denis responds with his best match in final

Denis Shapovalov returned to Canada’s Davis Cup team for the first time in three years, where he helped lead the team into the finals before falling to Spain.

While Shapovalov has enjoyed a strong indoor hard-court season, he suffered a pair of tough luck losses against both Germany and Italy.

Jan-Lennard Struff played a high quality match in the quarterfinals to upset Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.

Lorenzo Sonego then drew inspiration from a vocal Italian crowd, defeating the Canadian 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 in the semifinals stage.

Shapovalov was fortunately not discouraged by the run of close losses, saving his best tennis for the final, as he dismantled Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4 in just one hour and 29 minutes.

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When Denis harnesses his tools on court, he remains one of the most dangerous players on the ATP circuit.

His latest run of momentum the last two months has produced two ATP singles finals and now a Davis Cup title, results that could spur on a strong 2023.

Shapovalov has also been inside the top 10 of the rankings, reached the semifinals of Wimbledon, the quarterfinals of Australia and the US Open, and has one ATP singles title.

All these accolades and the 23-year-old is still in the early stages of a blossoming tennis career.

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Veteran Vasek anchors doubles

Vasek Pospisil has been Canada’s most frequent Davis Cup competitor, having accepted 23 nominations and competed in 28 ties.

His reliability on the international stage has continued to be a huge asset for the Canadian group.

Pospisil was twice called upon in decisive doubles rubbers this week, winning on both occasions.

Against Germany, he and Denis Shapovalov rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over the favoured team of Tim Puetz and Kevin Krawietz.

After Shapovalov logged over three hours on court in his semifinals singles match, Pospisil then teamed up with Auger-Aliassime to defeat Germany’s Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini 7-6, 7-5.

Vasek has all the makings of the quintessential doubles player – a potent first serve, excellent hands at net, lightning quick reflexes, and a heavy forehand wing.

These intangibles have also propelled his return to the top 100 in singles.

At 32 years of age, Pospisil is still keen for big results in the sport, adding former player Malek Jaziri as his new head coach.

After missing last year’s event, he’ll return to Australia to open his season next year, with lofty but achievable goals of returning to the top 50.

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Canada: Tennis powerhouse

Make no mistake.

Canada has announced itself as a tennis powerhouse.

The nation won two international titles this season, as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov anchored a victory at the ATP Cup in Australia to begin 2022.

Now they’ve further cemented their place in the tennis landscape, notching a first ever Davis Cup crown.

The last decade of tennis has produced numerous historic results for the country, all of which have helped to pave the way for the current generation of stars.

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In singles, Westmount, Que.’s Genie Bouchard became the first Canadian-born player to reach the finals of a grand slam, doing so in 2014 at Wimbledon.

Former world no. 3 Milos Raonic would achieve the same result in men’s singles in 2016 at the All England Club.

Mississauga’s Bianca Andreescu made history as the first single grand slam champion, defeating Serena Williams to win the 2019 U.S. Open.

Just two years later, Montreal’s Leylah Annie Fernandez finished runner-up at Flushing Meadows.

Canada has a breadth of talent, with six players inside the top 70 of singles, a top 10 women’s doubles presence in Gabriela Dabrowski, and numerous young rising talents currently competing at the ITF and collegiate level.

Tennis in Canada has never looked brighter.

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