Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched the ATP Cup title for Canada on Sunday evening with a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut to give his country a 2-0 win against Spain.
Canada lost its first four matches of this year’s competition and could have been eliminated before playing the third Group C tie. But thanks to favourable results, the Canadians still had a chance and they seized their opportunity.
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov won a deciding doubles against Russia on Saturday to knock out the defending champions. And with the trophy on the line, they played their best tennis to defeat two-time finalists Spain.
“The emotions are unbelievable. There’s no better feeling than winning. We left everything out there. We came back from far in this competition, losing our first four matches. But we never stopped believing,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I think that’s very important. We trust each other to the highest level. Denis and I, everybody in the team — Brayden [Schnur] played in singles, Steven [Diez] played in doubles and they’ve been supporting us all week. They’ve got a tournament next week, but they’re here every day ready to practise, ready to support us.
“All their egos are aside and we really trusted each other along the way and it came down to the perfect result. I’m super thrilled for everybody in the whole team and myself, of course.”
Auger-Aliassime, who was also his country’s captain, suffered a disappointing defeat at No. 1 singles on Saturday against Daniil Medvedev, losing the final nine games of that match. But the 21-year-old showed no ill effects from that loss, playing with controlled aggression to down the always tough Bautista Agut in two hours and 10 minutes.
Felix double faulted on his first match point. But the Canadian quickly calmed his nerves and elicited a backhand return error on the next point. Shapovalov and the rest of Team Canada quickly rushed the court to celebrate.
Bautista Agut is one of the toughest opponents for everyone on the ATP Tour. The Spaniard is a baseline machine who rarely misses and takes advantage of the smallest openings. But his issue was that Auger-Aliassime never cracked.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
In the first-set tie-break, the World No. 11 hit a sensational forehand passing shot to earn an early mini-break, and he added another with a big forehand from the middle of the court. The Canadian carried that lead through the rest of the tie-break to seal the opener.
With the trophy drawing closer, Auger-Aliassime maintained his composure. Felix saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced and struck 15 aces in his triumph.
“I think the points just come and you try to really dig deep, think about the good things and think how you’re going to win that point. Just on and on and on, I was able to do it every time,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Sometimes it’s a bit of luck and today also I was good in the important moments, so that’s always important. Just tried to stay positive, also.”
Earlier in the tie, Shapovalov captured the No. 2 singles match with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Pablo Carreno Busta, who had led their ATP Head2Head series 4-1.
“Couldn’t have wished for a better start. If it wasn’t for Denis the past two days, we wouldn’t be here right now. I’d like to congratulate him. He’s been unbelievable,” Auger-Aliassime said. “He lost the past few times against Carreno and today he won in straight sets. Not with ease, but the way he can play he won in a good way, so honestly all credit to him.”