MADRID: The revamped Davis Cup will reach its climax, with Canada celebrating a historic first title or Spain lifting the trophy for the sixth time in front of their fans.
After two thrilling semi-finals decided in tiebreakers of the doubles matches on Saturday, Spain outlasted Britain and Canada upset Russia to play for the title of the new Davis Cup Finals, the World Cup of tennis.
Rafael Nadal won his singles match before teaming up with Feliciano Lopez to secure a dramatic 2-1 win over Britain, putting the hosts in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2012.
The world number one, playing like a man possessed, sent a capacity crowd at the Caja Magica wild as he almost single-handedly hauled his country home and set up a final with Canada in the inaugural edition of the revamped competition on Sunday.
With the semi-final on a knife edge at 1-1 after the singles were shared, Nadal and veteran Lopez came through an electrifying doubles clash against Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, winning 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (10-8).
Just as on the previous night against Argentina in the quarter-finals, Nadal first had to win his singles to drag his team level after Lopez was outplayed 6-3, 7-6 by Kyle Edmund.
Nadal completed that task with a 6-4 6-0 win over Dan Evans, which extended his incredible run of Davis Cup singles wins to 28 since 2004, and, just like 24 hours earlier, he bounded back on court around half an hour later for a doubles decider.
Murray and Skupski more than held their own in the face of a partisan home crowd and a pumped-up Nadal, but saw a break point come and go in the 11th game of the first set before losing a tie-break.
The Britons saw four set points pass them by in the second set, including three in the breaker, with Nadal saving one by producing an incredible lob on the stretch.
A place in the final was sealed on a second match point.
“It was an exciting match, almost dramatic,” Nadal said. “We played at a high level. We knew the victory would come if we played with determination and hope.”
Canada reached their first Davis Cup final after Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil, who have played every rubber for their side this week, beat Russian duo Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov as their semi-final also went to the wire.
Pospisil’s run of three straight singles wins here came to an end in the opener against an inspired Rublev, the Russian winning 6-4, 6-4.
Shapovalov levelled the tie when he beat Khachanov 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 before the Canadian duo edged the doubles 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5).
“I don’t think any of us expected that we could get this far,” Shapovalov said. “You have to have a little bit of luck on your side and just play some ridiculous tennis and play at a ridiculous level. It’s dream to be in the final.”
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019