Canada defeats Russia in thriller to advance to first Davis Cup final

MADRID — Canada’s historic run at this year’s Davis Cup continued Saturday with a semifinal win over Russia to put the Canadians into the final at the international tournament for the first time.

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver defeated Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the deciding doubles match to win the semifinal tie 2-1.

The Canadians will play the winner of the other semi between Spain and Britain in the final on Sunday.

Canada fought back from 0-3 and 2-4 deficits in the tiebreak and earned a minibreak to go up 6-4. The Canadians converted on their second match point when a Pospisil serve was returned wide.

Canada first appeared in a Davis Cup in 1913. The team’s best result was in 2013, when it reached the World Group semifinals before losing 3-2 to Serbia.

Pospisil, the Davis Cup veteran, started the day for Canada with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Rublev. But Shapovalov, Canada’s top singles player at No. 15, responded by beating No. 17 Khachanov 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to level the tie.

Pospisil, ranked 150th in the world in singles after missing the first half of 2019 following off-season back surgery, had been steady throughout Canada’s Davis Cup run, winning all but one of his singles matches.

The 29-year-old recorded three major upsets at the Finals, beating No. 12 Fabio Fognini of Italy, No. 36 Reilly Opelka of the United States and No. 48 John Millman of Australia this week.

Pospisil and Shapovalov, who have played every match for Canada this week, are both 5-2 including singles and doubles play.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, ranked No. 21 in the world, was slowed by injury at the start of the Davis Cup and hadn’t played a competitive match since the Shanghai Masters in early October. While Canada said the 19-year-old was cleared to play as early as Thursday’s quarterfinals, team captain Frank Dancevic elected to ride the hot hand in Pospisil against Australia and again versus Russia.

Rublev, No. 23, got the best of Pospisil early Saturday, breaking the Canadian twice to take the opening singles match in straight sets before Shapovalov evened the tie to set up the deciding doubles match.

Canada has been snapping losing streaks all tournament long.

The Canadian quarterfinal win on Thursday snapped a string of nine previous Davis Cup defeats to Australia.

Canada also ended a losing run of 15 meetings against the United States, a team it had never beaten in the Davis Cup before this year.

The new Davis Cup Finals is being played in World Cup-style with all 18 teams playing in a single venue in the same week.

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