Denis Shapovalov pays ‘huge credit’ to Felix Auger-Aliassime as Canada set up Italy showdown at Davis Cup

Davis Cup featuring Denis Shapovalov

Italy will play Canada for a place in the Davis Cup final after both came through tight quarter-finals in Malaga on Thursday.

Unlike Australia and Croatia’s victories on Tuesday and Wednesday, both these ties went to deciding doubles rubbers, with Canada completing the last-four line-up just after midnight in southern Spain by seeing off Germany after Italy had beaten USA.

The US were left with work to do following Lorenzo Sonego’s upset of Frances Tiafoe, who is ranked more than 20 places higher, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).

Taylor Fritz brought the teams level with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 win against Lorenzo Musetti but Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli played an excellent doubles match to beat Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4.

“I am really happy, I am here with my ‘brother’ and we played really well,” Fognini said.

Bolelli added: “I am happy for me, for Fabio, for the team. It was really tough, but it is great to be through to the semi-finals.”

That left captain Mardy Fish with questions to answer after he chose to leave out his top-ranked doubles player, Rajeev Ram, who won the ATP Finals alongside Britain’s Joe Salisbury last weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of great players that play for the US,” said Fish. “Rajeev is one of them. He wasn’t on the team this year, and that’s my choice. If anyone has an issue with that, that’s on me.

“But, if Rajeev was here or not, those guys were going to win today. They played well and they’re too good.”

Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff overcame a rankings gap of more than 130 places to defeat Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6 7-6 (2) in the opening rubber of the second match.

Felix Auger-Aliassime pulled Canada level by beating Oscar Otte 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 but Shapovalov bounced back in style by teaming up with Vasek Pospisil for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz.

“Huge credit to Felix for bringing the team on the board,” Shapovalov said. “He saved us out there today. It’s always a pleasure to play with Vasek. It’s always awesome to share the court with him and we bring some firepower.”

Pospisil said during his on-court interview: “Having this kind of crowd support really helps kind of carry the momentum all the way to the end and I felt like Denis and I were playing better and better.

“It’s really tough because we don’t play too much doubles throughout the year so it’s a challenge to be sharp out there but given the circumstances I thought we played extremely well, especially as the match went on.”