Canada clinches historic championship berth at Davis Cup Finals
Pospisil, Shapovalov defeat Russia's Khachanov, Rublev in decisive doubles match
Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov booked Canada a spot in the championship match at the Davis Cup Finals for the first time with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory over Russia's Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev on Saturday in Madrid.
Canada will meet Spain in Sunday's final after matching its best finish in the 119-year history of the Davis Cup with Saturday's appearance and guaranteeing itself a spot in the 18-team final round next year.
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.
"The last five days it took a lot of emotions just to get to this match," Pospisil said. "So I think it's just building, building, building and every match just feels that much more emotional and a huge success. And obviously to win that in a third-set tiebreak makes it that much more dramatic and that much more special.
"It's pretty incredible to make the finals, first time in history for Canada. And to do it the way it happened was pretty special to be a part of."
WATCH | Highlights from Canada's semifinal win over Russia:
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, after falling down in his singles match, also received treatment on his shoulder following the second set of the doubles contest.
A straight-sets win by Pospisil and Shapovalov over Australia on Thursday vaulted the 14th-ranked Canadians to the semifinals for only the third time ever, after they knocked off No. 10 Italy and No. 6 United States earlier in the tourney to win their group.
Slowed by back surgery
Pospisil, from Vancouver, was the story of the tournament for Canada prior to Saturday's action, having disposed of No. 12 Fabio Fognini of Italy, No. 36 Reilly Opelka of the U.S. and Australia's John Millman, ranked 48th.
"I've been on the Tour for 12 years now and this is an incredible moment to be a part of this, especially … [because] I was injured at the beginning of this year, had surgery and wasn't sure how many moments like this I might have," Pospisil said. "But I got back to a really high level much faster than I expected which was really nice.
"I worked really hard for that and to be here now playing the Davis Cup Finals for Canada it's incredible. So I'm pretty thrilled."
WATCH | Vasek Pospisil: 'We did the right moves tactically':
Pospisil has sat as high as 25th in the world but arrived in Spain at 150th following back surgery that cost the 29-year-old the bulk of this season.
Pospisil and Shapovalov, who have played every match for Canada this week, are both 5-2 including singles and doubles play.
15 aces, 32 unforced errors
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 quarter-finals, 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 three times to take the opening singles match in straight sets. Pospisil had 28 winners, including 15 aces, but was done in by 32 unforced errors.
WATCH | Denis Shapovalov discusses being Canadian, Russian heritage:
Shapovalov evened the tie with a nearly two-hour long match to set up the decisive doubles. Shapovalov fired 11 aces to Khachanov's six, but double-faulted six times. The Canadian converted on 3-of-5 break points and saved 5-of-7.
"In terms of what we've been doing this week, there's really no words for it," Shapovalov said. "I don't think any of us expected that we could get this far. Obviously we know we have a great team but you have to have a bit of luck on your side and play some ridiculous tennis and play at a ridiculous level and I think we just absolutely played ridiculous [on Saturday]."
Russia was seeking its third Davis Cup title and first since 2006 after edging world No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Serbia with a 2-1 victory in their quarter-final on Friday.
Nadal, Spain await Canadians
Rafael Nadal led Spain to the Davis Cup final as he and Feliciano Lopez won a thrilling late-night doubles to seal a nail-biting 2-1 victory over Britain.
Kyle Edmund gave Britain the lead with an emphatic win over the 38-year-old Lopez before Nadal leveled things up with an equally dominant display against Dan Evans.
For the second time in the day a semi-final came down to the doubles rubber and it was the Spanish left-handers who clawed out a 7-6(3) 7-6(8) victory in a match of unremitting tension.
Britain had four set points to take the match into a decider but world number one Nadal, playing like a man possessed, raised his game and dragged his country home.
When Lopez's first serve completed the job an explosion of noise threatened to take the roof off the Caja Magica.
France, Serbia handed wild-card entries for 2020
The International Tennis Federation says France and Serbia have been given wild-card entries for the 2020 Davis Cup Finals.
They will join the four semifinalists from this year's inaugural revamp: Britain, Canada, Russia and Spain.
Serbia lost to Russia in the quarter-finals, while France was eliminated in the group stage.
The new-look 18-team finals — reduced to one week in one city and three matches per tie — is the result of a 25-year partnership between the ITF and Kosmos, an investment group co-founded by Barcelona star Gerard Pique. The overhaul was aimed at making the traditional team competition more attractive and lucrative.
The draw for the qualifiers will be on Sunday in Madrid.
With files from The Canadian Press & Associated Press & Reuters