ATP Cup: Felix Auger-Aliassime upset Alexander Zverev to fire Canada into semifinals

Denis Shapovalov got the better of Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3 before Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated ATP finals champion Alexander Zverev 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Felix Auger-Aliassime in a file photo. (Twitter: @TeamCanada)

Felix Auger-Aliassime upset World No.3 Alexander Zverev to carry Canada through to the ATP Cup semi-finals on Thursday. Following Great Britain’s 2-1 triumph over the United States earlier in Qudos Bank Arena, Canada’s players rose to the occasion to see off Germany to seal a spot in the last 4. Denis Shapovalov got the better of Jan-Lennard Struff at the end of a tight tussle, the world No. 14 defeated 51st-ranked Struff 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3 before Auger-Aliassime overcame Olympic Games and ATP Finals champion Zverev at the end of an entertaining contest.

The World No.11 rose to the challenge and got the better of the German with a scoreline of 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and helped Canada to top of Group C. The 21-year-old won 75 per cent of first-serve points as he triumphed in Sydney.

“It feels good to beat Zverev,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “I played a great match. He is a great player and he has beaten me a couple of times before, so I am happy I was able to get the job done today, especially for the team. We started off on a tough day a couple of days ago, so to finish off strong and be through to the semis is special. The atmosphere was great at the end, that is what we play for.”

Auger-Aliassime recovered from squandering four break points at 3-3 in the second set, hitting with great power and depth in the third set to triumph after two hours and 32 minutes. He broke the German in the seventh game and reduced the Head2Head series deficit to 2-4. He has been impressive in the competition so far as he kept Canada’s ATP Cup bid alive by defeating Cameron Norrie in the singles tie on Tuesday.

Shapovalov, who is making his third ATP cup appearance, gave a dream start to Canada as he overcame Struff with his explosive groundstrokes, firing 41 winners to seal his win after two hours and 34 minutes.

“It is just great to be back and playing,” Shapovalov said in his on-court interview. “We have got a great chance. There is a lot ahead of us, but we are fighting and we have been fighting every single match. Felix inspired us a lot in the previous tie and we are just trying to give all we have for Canada.”

I knew I had to fight every point: Shapovalov

In an gruelling match, Struff matched Shapovalov toe-to-toe with heavy-hitting baseline exchanges. However, the World No.14 raised his level in the third set, saving all four break points he faced in the decider to put Canada’s nose in front. With the win, the 22-year-old has reduced his ATP Head2Head series against Struff to 3-5.

“I knew I had to fight every point,” Shapovalov added. “I have had a tough record against Struffi, he is a tough player to play and he always brings it against me. I think the level was really, really high so it was a great win to get.” 

The semi-final lineup has been completed as Canada and Russia joined Spain and Poland after clinching their spot on the final day. In Group B Russia beat Italy 2-1 to seal their spot in the last 4 while in Group C Canada secured the top spot. Spain will square off against Poland in the semi-finals on Friday, while Canada will face Russia on Saturday. 

Sportslumo Desk

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