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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday November 26, 2022

 
Felix Auger-Aliassime

Canada edged Italy in decisive doubles to set a final with Australia at Davis Cup.

Photo Source: Getty

For the second consecutive day, Canada has rallied back from the brink to earn a hard-fought victory at Davis Cup.

Tennis Express

On Saturday in Malaga it was Felix Auger-Aliassime who guided his team to victory, earning a victory over Lorenzo Musetti in singles before partnering with Vasek Pospisil to defeat Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini in the deciding doubles tilt, 7-6(2), 7-5.


Canada reaches the Davis Cup final for the second time and will face 28-time champion Australia, who defeated Croatia on Friday, for the title on Sunday.

"I'm so proud of this team and so proud of the guys, what they have accomplished," said Canadian Captain Frank Dancevic on Saturday. "We are going to celebrate a bit tonight, for sure, but we have another match tomorrow. That's the ultimate goal is to win the cup, and that's what we are dialed in to do.:

The win gives Auger-Aliassime and his mates to capture a rare double - it was the Canadians that started the season by winning the ATP Cup in Perth, with Auger-Aliassime clinching victory in the final against Spain by knocking off Roberto Bautista Agut.

Many believe that victory gave Auger-Aliassime the spark he needed to exorcise big-match demons, and he did so with authority in 2022, winning his first four ATP titles as he finishes his best season at a career-high ranking of No.6.

The ATP Cup has since been disbanded and replaced by the United Cup, but Canada as a team tennis juggernaut - and Auger-Aliassime as a proven, title-gobbling commodity, continues to rise.

"I think this is the most complete team that we have had in the history of Canadian tennis," Auger-Aliassime said. "I feel we deserve to be in that position now.

"I have said it many times throughout the years, this is one of the goals I think for all the guys to go far and to win it all. I'm really proud of everybody's effort. It's been a great journey. It's the last day tomorrow of Davis Cup for this year, so we're ready to give it all."

It was a close battle from start to finish on Saturday as the Italians stepped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to the hard work of Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Denis Shapovalov 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-4 to put the Italians in the driver’s set.

It has been an eye-opening Davis Cup for Sonego, who also defeated Frances Tiafoe to help lead Italy past the United States on Thursday.

“It was a very emotional moment for me,” Sonego said after avenging a three-set loss to Shapovalov in their only previous meeting, at Rome this spring. “It was a really tight match, three sets. It was a big win, for sure. Amazing moment for me, for my team.”

The lead would not last as Auger-Aliassime put forth a convincing effort to take out Musetti in one hour and 25 minutes, behind 12 aces and 30 of 33 first-serve points won. The Canadian never faced a break point and converted one per set to saunter past the 20-year-old and set up a deciding doubles rubber.

“It's sad, because it's the second time in a row that I have the chance to bring Italy in this case to the final,” Musetti, who lost to Taylor Fritz on Thursday with Italy up 1-0 on Team USA, said. “So for me it burns a little bit.

“I played till the last point, and Felix played better than me – he deserved to win today.”

Shapovalov was instrumental on Friday for Team Canada as he paired with Pospisil to win the doubles point, but Captain Frank Dancevic went with the fresher Auger-Aliassime on Saturday.

Italy, meanwhile, countered by putting in Berrettini, who hadn’t played singles once over the weekend.

There was drama down to the wire. After Canada took the opening set in a tiebreak, they broke Fognini’s serve to lead 6-5 in the second set. The Italians immediately put pressure on Auger-Aliassime’s serve, earning two break-back points at 15-40. From there Auger-Aliassime showed his steel, delivering two massive first serves to get to deuce (one ace and one winner) and winning the final four points to clinch a spot in the final.

Canada improves to 3-0 against Italy, with wins in 2013 and 2019.

Australia holds the 9-1 edge over Canada but it was Team Canada that earned victory in the team’s last meeting, at the 2019 Davis Cup Finals - that meeting marked the nation's first tussle since 1964.

 

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