MALAGA, Spain — Just as he had to do last Thursday against Oscar Otte and Germany, Félix Auger-Aliassime came to the rescue of Denis Shapovalov and Canada, this time in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup Finals Saturday against Italy.
Just under two hours after Shapovalov lost a marathon match to Lorenzo Sonego, the 22-year-old Montrealer delivered another top performance.
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Once again supported by hard-hitting serves that allowed him to score 12 aces, Auger-Aliassime defeated Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, all in 84 minutes, in the second singles match of the day.
Auger-Aliassime needed only two breaks, the first in the sixth game of the opening set and the second in the ninth game of the second set, to claim a second singles victory this week in the Spanish city of Malaga.
As so often happened to him during his 16-game winning streak in October, Auger-Aliassime didn’t concede a break chance to his opponent.
After his second break, which gave him the chance to serve for the game with a 5-4 lead, Auger-Aliassime lost the first two points of the 10th game. He responded by winning the next four, the last using a serve that Musetti barely touched.
With his victory, Auger-Aliassime forced a doubles duel to determine if Canada will join Australia in the grand final on Sunday.
In principle, Canada was to delegate Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil for this doubles match, against Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini.
Perhaps because Shapovalov had spent 3 hours and 14 minutes on the court against Sonego and needed lower back treatment between the third and fourth games of the third set, captain Frank Dancevic delegated Auger-Aliassime to play the doubles match with Pospisil.
Italy also made a change to their tandem, replacing Bolelli with Matteo Berrettini.
Shapovalov and Pospisil teamed up on Thursday to erase a one-set deficit to zero and win the deciding double against Germany, securing Canada’s spot in the semifinals.