A place in the Davis Cup semi-final will depend on the doubles match between Canada represented by Sobeys and Germany after the two countries shared singles matches on Thursday in Malaga.
Felix Auger-Aliassime played a big role for the Canadians in the second singles match after Denis Shapovalov suffered a crushing defeat in the first match.
Needing a win to keep Canada alive, Auger-Aliassime fell into a rut and simply overpowered Oscar Otte, leaving the German with very little chance of winning with a straight set.
Now it’s up to Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil in doubles, who will decide the draw.
Auger-Aliassime brought the form in which he finished the season as one of the hottest players on the tour to the battle with Otte as he dominated, throwing 15 aces on the first innings and winning 89 percent on the first innings, dropping four in total. . He shot to the fullest in every aspect of the game, hitting 21 winners, 18 of them with forehands, in a 7-6(1), 6-4 win.
It took a few games for Auger-Aliassime to start the game and he even had to keep a break point in his first serve game. However, as the set progressed, the Canadian found his way to more return games by traveling the pitch.
With the score at 4:3, Auger-Aliassime had three chances to break, but all three times the German found a strong serve to run away and stay on the serve.
After the tie-break, the German was unlucky. A double fault on his first serve gave Auger-Aliassime the lead and the Canadian never looked back as he won the last five in a row and ended the first set with an ace.
With momentum on his back, Auger-Aliassime had a chance to make a break in the first game of the second, but failed to take advantage of the 15-40 lead.
In the end, after Otte missed a right hand and set up a break point at 3-all, Auger-Aliassime scored the winning right hand to seal the break.
Canada, which boasts the best No. 1 and No. 2 players of any country competing in the Davis Cup Final, probably hoped to finish the tie without doubles, but that hope was dashed when Denis Shapovalov lost. opening match with his nemesis, Jan-Lennard Struff.
An early break put the German ahead and although Shapovalov refused to leave, he failed to take the lead and lost to Struff 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) for the sixth time in nine meetings.
Shapovalov could get a chance at rehab if Felix Auger-Aliassime can beat Oscar Otte in his second singles match. Canadian singles No. 2 is currently expected to play doubles with Vasek Pospisil if the tie continues.
The erratic serve was a problem for Shapovalov, who threw 18 aces and scored 81% on the first serve, but also made 10 double faults and scored only 47% on the second serve.
Double faults in a row that caused a break to be abandoned resulted in Shapovalov being in an early hole to start the match. He had a chance to bounce back in the next game, but Struff extinguished this opportunity with a powerful serve.
This became the norm in the opening set, as every time Shapovalov played Struff’s serve, the German could call in a strong serve to eliminate the threat. The Canadian also lacked consistency as he shot from the right to forfeit the second break and the first set.
As the match progressed, Shapovalov began to gain confidence and began to control the points.
Another chance for a breakpoint came and went early in the second set, but when the door opened again at 3-all, the Canadian won a wild exchange near the net, blasting past a stranded Struff to take the lead.
As with the rest of his game, Shapovalov’s serve became increasingly effective as the match progressed, and he was able to hold on without much difficulty to take the match to the decider.
Bad luck led the Canadian to an early hole on the third when he missed a bad pass from Struff, but he fell to give the German a 3-1 lead.
However, luck was balanced at the most crucial moment of the match. Struff served him with a score of 5-3 and kept the match point, but hit the net with a tight shot with a volley. Shapovalov saw four break points go past him before a misguided return floated past Struff to put the set back on serve.
He wasn’t beside himself as Shapovalov ran into match point on his serve at 4-5 but saved him with a serve that barely crossed the line.
It all came down to a tie-break in the final set, where Shapovalov landed a backhand into the net and fell short of an early mini-break. He never managed to get it back as the German didn’t lose a point on his own pitch in the breakdown to put his country ahead.
Shapovalov will get a chance for redemption in doubles. The Canadian No. 2 in singles is currently expected to play doubles with Vasek Pospisil in the third winner-takes-all rubber. The pair won the decisive doubles match in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals during Canada’s entry to the 2019 Davis Cup Final.