The United States bring a perfect 15-0 record over Canada into Tuesday’s Davis Cup clash, as the North American rivals go head-to-head in Madrid’s Caja Magica.
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Note: Team captains have until one hour before the start of play to confirm the players competing.
Canada have lost all 15 previous Davis Cup ties against the USA, but the last of those contests were held in 1965. This new generation of Canadian players will have the chance to make some history on Tuesday as they aim to beat the Americans for the first time and maintain their perfect start to the 2019 Davis Cup Finals.
Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil starred on Day One for the Canadians as they scored a 2-1 victory over a strong Italian side to take early control of Group F.
Pospisil is mainly in the team for his doubles prowess (even though he has been a top-30 singles player in the past), but he was required for singles duties on Monday, selected as a late replacement for Felix Auger-Aliassime, who had been with struggling an ankle injury. Auger-Aliassime has not played since the Shanghai Masters in early October, pulling out of the Paris Masters and the Next Gen ATP Finals, but the Canadians are hopeful he can recover on time to play against the USA on Tuesday.
Pospisil, by far the most experienced player in the current side with 19 previous nominations, answered the call in style, beating Fabio Fognini 7-6 7-5 to set Canada on their way. Denis Shapovalov then put the tie beyond the Italians when he edged world No. 8, Matteo Berrettini in an incredibly tight 7-6 6-7 7-6 victory to give the North Americans an unassailable 2-0 lead. Shapovalov improves to 8-3 in Davis Cup singles matches, and has now won his last five rubbers in the competition.
Pospisil and Shapovalov could not quite complete the sweep, as they were beaten by Berrettini and Fognini 6-2 3-6 6-3 in the doubles rubber.
The Canadians are seeking their first ever Davis Cup title, with their previous best finishes being semi-finals in 1913 and more recently in 2013. They initially had former world No. 3, Milos Raonic in their squad, but Raonic pulled out due to a back injury, and was replaced by world No. 103, Brayden Schnur in their four-player roster. Theirs isn’t the most experienced squad going around, but they are certainly a very talented bunch, and if they can get Auger-Aliassime fit and playing well, along with Shapovalov, they have a chance of going really deep in Madrid.
Frank Dancevic’s men can confirm their place in the semi-finals with victory over the USA on Tuesday.
The Americans qualified for this Finals by virtue of being one of the four semi-finalists from last season (they fell to Croatia in the last four), and they will hope to go a couple of steps further this week as they seek their first title since 2007.
Despite that long drought, the USA remain the most successful nation in the competition’s long history with 32 titles. Captained by former top-ten player, Mardy Fish, who took over from Jim Courier earlier this year, the Americans have a good blend of youth and experience, with young guns, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Reilly Opelka joined by more senior campaigners, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey. They are without their No. 1 player, John Isner, with world No. 32, Fritz taking over as the top-ranked American in the competition.
Fritz is coming off his career-best season, during which he captured his maiden title and reached as high as No. 25 on the ATP rankings. However, he is a complete Davis cup rookie, with this being his first nomination. He’s not the only one on that boat, as Opelka- the No. 2 ranked American in Madrid- has also never played Davis Cup tennis, while Tiafoe has contested just two matches in the competition, both of which he lost. Sam Querrey brings the experience with a 10-9 singles record, while Sock is mainly in the side for the doubles rubbers, despite being a former top-ten player. He hasn’t won a singles match at any level this year, having missed a big chunk of the season with a hand injury.
Will Fish put his trust in his younger guns for the singles rubbers against Canada, or will he draft in the experience of Querrey? It’s an intriguing selection conundrum, and a positive one at that.
USA vs Canada is live from Madrid on Tuesday, 19 November from 5:00pm GMT/ 6:00pm local time