Canada flawless in ATP Cup victory over Greece

  • Matt Trollope

Canada confirmed its status as one of the favourites for the inaugural ATP Cup with a commanding victory over Greece in Brisbane.

On the first day of tennis’s exciting new team competition, rising stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime combined brilliantly to beat Team Greece – led by world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas – without the loss of a set.

Also on Friday, Belgium shut out Moldova 3-0 in Sydney while Norway upstaged the United States in Perth, with Casper Ruud saving match points to beat John Isner in the second singles match before he and Viktor Durasovic teamed up to beat Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram in a doubles match tiebreak.

Night matches are also scheduled for the three host cities, with Australia and Germany duking it out in Brisbane in another marquee clash.

Australia and Germany are in Group F along with Canada and Greece – arguably the strongest group in the 24-nation event. 

Canada, a recent Davis Cup finalist, vaulted to the top of that group after Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov both notched straight-sets victories. 

To beat a guy like this in the first match of the year, it's really special for me.
Denis Shapovalov, Team Canada

Auger-Aliassime, who at 19 years of age is already ranked No.21, beat Greece’s No.2 Michail Pervolarakis – ranked 487th – 6-1 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime closed out a dominant first set with a scorching forehand winner but was forced to work a little harder in the second before giving Canada an early edge. 

“I didn't know the opponent, also, so that's a factor that is always challenging when you're a player, and so I tried to focus on what I had to do," Auger-Aliassime said. 

"But I was happy that overall in the match I had a great first set, couldn't ask any better, and I was able to be solid in the second. So overall very happy to be back.”

Following that came a blockbuster between Shapovalov and Tsitsipas, yet it was the 15th-ranked Canadian who got the better the reigning ATP Finals champion. 

Rifling a series of scintillating winners, the left-handed Shapovalov closed out the opening set with an ace and then clinched a 7-6(6) 7-6(4) victory when Tsitsipas double-faulted. 

“It's definitely a huge win for me. Obviously, he had an unbelievable end to the season and he's definitely one of the top players in the world right now. He's got a great game. So to beat a guy like this in the first match of the year, it's really special for me,” Shapovalov said.

“It's always amazing to be part of the team and have kind of a team feeling. It's pretty rare on the Tour, so I definitely love it and I always feel like I thrive off that atmosphere.”

Shapovalov has now won three of his four career meetings with Tsitsipas.

That result gave Canada an unassailable 2-0 lead, but they made sure of the most dominant of victories when Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime teamed up to beat Pervolarakis and Petros Tsitispas – Stefanos’ younger brother – 6-2 6-3.