Felix Auger-Aliassime says Team Canada is “pumped to start the year well” as they prepare for their opening ATP Cup tie with the United States on Sunday.
The 21-year-old is stepping up as captain for this ATP Cup campaign, but the World No. 11 says he doesn’t expect anything too different from this additional responsibility. “Not much is going to change,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I think it’s similar to team events we have had before.”
“I will be watching Denis’ [Shapovalov] matches, but when the time comes to prepare for mine, I will. That’s the best we can do, just focus on what individually we have to do and try to win every match we play. I love this event…I think it’s good for the sport and it’s good for us players to start the year this way.”
Auger-Aliassime will certainly have his hands full on the singles court in Sydney, where he is due to face World No. 23 Taylor Fritz, followed by No. 12-ranked Cameron Norrie of Great Britain and World No. 3 Alexander Zverev, who ended 2021 with the Nitto ATP Finals crown.
World No. 14 Denis Shapovalov made waves at the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev to ensure Canada made it through the group stage. He then pushed Novak Djokovic to a final-set tie-break in a thrilling quarter-final rubber.
Alongside his well-known singles prowess, Shapovalov plays doubles frequently on the ATP tour, something he believes can make a difference in close ties this year. “Doubles is pretty important in these events,” said Shapovalov. “Obviously, it’s the decider. So, it’s great to have three, four guys that can play doubles and play really well.
“Playing throughout the year helps a lot, but we’ve got great players, and everyone can play doubles. I think we’ve got a lot of variety on the team.”
Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez will also be looking to make an impact at the opening event of the year. World No. 238 Schnur is hoping to use his time in Sydney as a launchpad for his 2022 season.
“I just feel it could be great preparation for me heading into the year, and any opportunity I get to spend time with these guys and be around them,” said Schnur. “I mean, this is the next generation of top players, so I’m so grateful for the opportunity and just eager to just keep improving myself.”