Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov victories help Canada claim 1st ATP Cup title
Canadian tennis stars win singles matches against Spanish opponents in Sydney
Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched the ATP Cup title for Canada on Sunday with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 singles victory over Roberto Bautista Agut to give his country an insurmountable 2-0 lead against Spain.
Denis Shapovalov opened the match for Canada with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Pablo Carreno Busta.
"The emotions are unbelievable," Auger-Aliassime said. "There's no better feeling than winning. We left everything out there."
The results capped a remarkable turnaround for the Canadians after they dropped their first four matches at the annual team competition.
"As the week went on I think we played some really good matches and we got more and more belief," said Auger-Aliassime. "But I think the trust and the belief never went away the whole week for everybody on the team."
The 16 teams in the field were divided into four groups, with the winners of each group advancing to the semifinals.
Canada opened with a 3-0 loss to the United States before rebounding with wins over Germany and Great Britain to finish first in Group C.
Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, and Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., won a deciding doubles match against Russia to knock out the defending champions.
And with the title on the line, they played their best tennis Sunday to defeat two-time finalists Spain.
Auger-Aliassime saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced and had 15 aces. Shapovalov, who lost four of five previous matches against Carreno Busta, was also in form.
'A great team effort'
Brayden Schnur of Pickering, Ont., and Toronto's Steven Diez were also on the Canadian roster.
"Definitely huge credits to everyone on the team for believing and fighting and putting the work in," Shapovalov said. "I mean these guys did such an amazing job on the bench and obviously Felix on the court.
"I mean it was just a great team effort."
Schnur was a late replacement in the opening singles match on Jan. 1 after Shapovalov couldn't play due to fatigue. He was still recovering after contracting COVID-19 at a recent tournament in the Middle East.
"Obviously we had a really tough start," Shapovalov said. "But we kept fighting, kept believing."
The ATP Cup made its debut in 2020. It also serves as a warm-up event for the Australian Open.
It was Canada's first appearance in the ATP Cup final. Rafael Nadal anchored Spain to a 2-0 win over Canada when the teams met in the Davis Cup final in 2019.
Spain ended up as ATP Cup runner-up for a second time after losing the 2020 final to Serbia.
Barty, Nadal claim titles
Elsewhere on Sunday, Top-ranked Ash Barty won her second Adelaide International title in three years with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Elena Rybakina, while Rafael Nadal also added another title to his illustrious career, capturing at least one ATP title for the 19th consecutive year.
The top-seeded Nadal beat American Maxime Cressy, 7-6 (6), 6-3 at Melbourne in one of six tournaments this week ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 17.
The Adelaide win improved Barty's record against top-20 rivals to 17-1 since the beginning of 2021.
Barty also beat Coco Gauff, 2020 Australian Open champion Sofin Kenin and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek en route to her 14th WTA tournament win.
Barty is scheduled to play the Sydney Tennis Classic next week before the Australian Open begins on Jan. 17.
In a WTA tournament at Melbourne, American Amanda Anisimova beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 to win her second WTA title.
The 20-year-old Anisimova came from 2-4 down in the first set and 0-3 in the decider to clinch the trophy and win her first title in almost three years.
In other tournament finals on Sunday, second-seeded Simona Halep beat Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-3 to win the WTA 500 event in Melbourne, and in the Adelaide International men's final, Gael Monfils defeated Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-4 .
With files from Reuters