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Canada beats Spain to clinch first ATP Cup title

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 09: Team Canada poses for a photo with the championship trophy after victory during day nine of the 2022 ATP Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 09, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime put in commanding performances against Spanish opponents to win their respective singles matches and fire Canada to the ATP Cup title on Sunday.

Shapovalov showed plenty of aggression to beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4 6-3 in the opening singles rubber to put Canada one win away from winning the $10 million team-based competition.

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World number 11 Auger-Aliassime then served strongly to take down Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(3) 6-3 and give Canada an unassailable 2-0 lead in the tie.

Canada, the first team in the ATP Cup’s three-year history to have lost a tie en route to the final, were swept by the United States in their group opener and also lost their first match against Britain.

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But Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov, who had contracted the novel coronavirus in the leadup to the tournament, bounced back with tie wins over Britain, Germany and then last year’s winners Russia.

“The emotions are unbelievable. There’s no better feeling than winning. We left everything out there,” said Auger-Aliassime. “We came back from far in this competition, losing our first four matches. But we never stopped believing.

“I think that’s very important. We trust each other to the highest level … it came down to the perfect result. I’m super thrilled for everybody in the whole team and myself, of course.”

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Carreno Busta came into the evening contest at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney brimming with confidence, having not dropped a set all week and with a 4-1 head-to-head record against the 14th-ranked Shapovalov.

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But the 22-year-old left-hander survived a barrage of breakpoint chances, including five in the opening game of the match, and held his nerve to claim victory in an hour and 38 minutes to give Canada a 1-0 lead in the tie.

“(I had) a little bit of nerves going out. Obviously I’ve got a tough record against Carreno Busta, so I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Shapovalov said.

Spain ended up as ATP Cup runner-up for a second time after losing the 2020 final to Serbia.

Auger-Aliassime saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced, hit 15 aces against Bautista Agut and another big serve on his second matchpoint was enough to close out the match in two hours and 10 minutes and spark celebrations in the Canada camp.

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Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Lincoln Feast and Hugh Lawson

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