Canada was recently saddled with the No. 13 spot in the Davis Cup Finals seedings, a position that Felix Auger-Aliassime feels was a little low considering the country’s depth and previous results.
The slot means Canada is guaranteed to play higher-seeded countries this November in Madrid. Canada will learn its opponents Feb. 14 when the 18 teams are split into six pools of three.
“With Milos (Raonic) and Denis (Shapovalov) as our top players and from what we’ve shown over the last few years, I think maybe we deserved a better spot,” Auger-Aliassime said Thursday on a conference call from Buenos Aires. “But at the end it doesn’t matter with the seedings. Obviously there’s only strong teams in the field.
“It will be tough competition and tough matches every day. But if our best players come, we might get a chance to do something good.”
Seedings were based on this week’s Davis Cup rankings. The top 13 countries were unchanged, with Canada rising two spots to No. 14. The Czech Republic, at No. 13, did not make the Finals after falling to the Netherlands last week.
The draw formula means Canada will be in a pool with one top-six seed and another team from the group seeded seventh through 12th.
France, Croatia, Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain and the United States will be drawn into the first position across Groups A through F. Seeds Nos. 7 through No. 12 — Spain, Serbia, Australia, Italy, Germany and Kazakhstan — will be drawn into the second position across the groups.
Canada leads a bottom six that includes Japan, Colombia, the Netherlands, Russia and Chile. If Canada were seeded one position higher, it would have faced one top-six opponent and one bottom-six opponent.
Auger-Aliassime won the decisive singles match last week in Slovakia to give Canada a 3-2 victory and berth in the Finals. With Raonic (knee) and doubles ace Vasek Pospisil (back) skipping the tie, Auger-Aliassime played two singles matches and teamed with Shapovalov in doubles.
The Montreal teenager is preparing for clay-court tournaments in Argentina and Brazil before returning to hardcourts next month at Indian Wells. Auger-Aliassime is ranked No. 1 in the world among players age 18 or under and is No. 107 in the main ATP Tour rankings.
He called his decisive Davis Cup victory the best moment of his career.
“This is a huge stepping stone for him to prove to himself that he can perform,” Canada captain Frank Dancevic said in a recent interview. “This is probably the highest-pressure situation you can be put in.
“For him to step out on court and just with no hesitation play the way he did, I think that proves to him, mentally and going forward for his game and for his confidence, that he has the ability to play at this level under that kind of pressure.”
Shapovalov, the world No. 25 from Richmond Hill, Ont., won both his singles matches and would likely feature again in November. If the 14th-ranked Raonic is healthy, it could be a formidable 1-2 punch in singles.
Pospisil, from Vancouver, is a former Wimbledon doubles champion who’s also a top-100 player in singles (currently No. 94). Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., the world No. 120, and the 158th-ranked Brayden Schnur could also be in the mix for selection.
The Davis Cup Finals will take place in a group-stage format over the first four days of the weeklong event. The six group winners and two second-placed teams with the best records will qualify for the knockout quarterfinals.
The final is set for Nov. 24.