Denis Shapovalov boosted Canada’s ATP Cup semi-final hopes Thursday, overcoming Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in Group C. Canada is now one win away from qualifying for the semi-finals.
Following Great Britain’s 2-1 triumph against the United States earlier on Qudos Bank Arena, Canada knew victory against Germany would seal a semi-final tie against reigning champion Russia on Saturday in Sydney.
Shapovalov, who is making his third ATP Cup appearance, gave Canada the perfect start as he bounced back from his singles defeat against Daniel Evans by dictating with his explosive groundstrokes against Struff. Shapovalov fired 41 winners to seal his win after two hours and 34 minutes.
“It is just great to be back and playing,” Shapovalov said in his on-court interview. “We have got a great chance. There is a lot ahead of us, but we are fighting and we have been fighting every single match. Felix inspired us a lot in the previous tie and we are just trying to give all we have for Canada.”
In a high-quality match, Shapovalov and Struff went toe-to-toe in brutal, heavy-hitting baseline exchanges. However, it was the World No. 14 who raised his level in the third set, saving all four break points he faced in the decider to give Canada the advantage. With victory, the 22-year-old has reduced his ATP Head2Head series deficit against the German to 3-5.
“I knew I had to fight every point,” Shapovalov added. “I have had a tough record against Struffi, he is a tough player to play and he always brings it against me. I think the level was really, really high so it was a great win to get.”
Felix Auger-Aliassime will aim to clinch the tie for Canada when he plays World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the No. 1 singles match.
ATP Cup format sees the No. 2 singles played first, followed by the No. 1 singles and the doubles. Doubles uses no-ad scoring and a Match Tie-break in place of a third set.
Each country plays three matches in group play from 1-6 January across Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park. One team emerges from each of the four groups to contest the two semi-finals, which will be split over two days (7-8 January), with the final played 9 January.