Canada out of Davis Cup after Denis Shapovalov strikes umpire with tennis ball
The 17-year-old saw his Davis Cup action come to an abrupt end Sunday when he hit the umpire with an errant ball.
Shapovalov was automatically defaulted under tennis rules, allowing Britain’s Kyle Edmund to earn an easy 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 victory and 3-2 series win. Britain advances to the Davis Cup World Group quarter-finals as the winner of the tie.
Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., was remorseful and emotional while addressing the media.
“Obviously this is unacceptable behaviour from me,” Shapovalov said. “I just feel awful for letting my team down, for letting my country down, for acting a way that I would never want to act.
“I can promise that’s the last time I will do anything like that.”
The crowd of 7,497 at TD Place was stunned when Shapovalov, who had just been broken by Edmund and was disappointed with a shot, took a ball out of his pocket and hit it in frustration. Umpire Arnaud Gabas of France had swelling and bruising under his left eye and was taken to Ottawa General Hospital for a precautionary evaluation.
Team Canada captain Martin Laurendeau had never dealt with a similar situation, but clearly felt for his young player.
“He’s not that kind of guy. It’s just the beginning of his career so he’ll draw a big lesson out of this,” Laurendeau said. “Curbing your emotions on the court is probably something that he’ll need to make a living out of this sport. You can’t compete if you don’t have emotional control and this lesson can serve him for the rest of his career and the rest of his life.”
Britain will play France in the quarters, while Canada will be forced to play a World Group play-off tie to keep its spot for 2018 play.
Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil defeated Daniel Evans 7-6(3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) earlier Sunday, tying the Davis Cup World Group tie at 2-2.
It was a disappointing turn of events considering how well Pospisil had played earlier, but he was quick to come to his teammate’s defence on Twitter.
“No one is nicer or carries themselves better for a 17 y/o than Shapovalov. Everyone can see that today was an accident. Can happen to anyone,” Pospisil tweeted.
Team captain Leon Smith called the turn of events “a shame.”
“I feel sorry for Denis. He’s gotten a harsh lesson,” Smith said. “He’ll learn I’m sure. But firstly I hope the umpire’s OK. That can be really dangerous.”
Pospisil’s participation had been in question as he’s struggled with a knee issue over the weekend and admitted a decision wasn’t made until the last possible moment.
Evans, ranked 45th in the world, struggled to handle Pospisil’s serve and it was the difference in the match.
“I had to play at my best,” Pospisil said. “If I slipped up a little bit, he was there playing great tennis. I’m just very happy with how I played the big moments.”
Pospisil, ranked 133rd, had 25 aces to Evans’s seven in the match that took three hours 23 minutes to be decided.
“When he was behind he was serving so well and I don’t even know how many break points I had and my conversion must have been diabolical really,” Evans said. “I’ve got to give it to him. He played better than me today.”
Evans seemed to find his second wind in the fourth set. He went up two games to none, but Pospisil had four aces to win the third game. Evans came right back and won the fourth game and the set ended in a tiebreaker.
Trailing 4-2 in the tiebreaker, Pospisil scored four unanswered points to take a 6-4 lead. Evans made it 6-5 with an ace, but Pospisil fired a serve that Evans was unable to return, hitting it wide to give Canada the win.
© 2017 The Canadian Press