McEnroe not counting out Federer after latest surgery

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BOSTON — Hall of Famer John McEnroe doesn’t think tennis has seen the last of Roger Federer playing at an elite level following the 38-year-old’s recent knee surgery.

Federer announced last month that he will miss the French Open and at least three other tournaments while he recuperates. Federer indicated he would return by Wimbledon in late June.

The Swiss star has spent more weeks ranked No. 1 than any player and owns a men’s record 20 Grand Slam titles. He currently is ranked No. 4 behind Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

McEnroe was in Boston Tuesday promoting the fourth edition of the Laver Cup, which will be held at TD Garden in September. He said watching Federer competing at age 38 has parallels to another dominant athlete in Boston.

“It’s like asking the same question on Tom Brady. You know, it’s the exact same thing,” McEnroe said. “I mean, how they keep doing it would be the first thing at their age. It’s phenomenal, right? I mean, how in the world are these guys still playing at such a high level?

“I’ve admired watching Tom Brady because he makes players around him better. But you’re out there on your own and you’re 38 and you could be turning 39 on a tennis court with the wear and tear. That’s really tough. . It’s already amazing he’s made it this far.”

McEnroe was coaching Milos Raonic in 2016 when he beat Federer at Wimbledon, the only time Raonic has beaten him in a major.

“Then Roger limped off the court and didn’t play for six months. And I thought, you know, that’s pretty much it,” McEnroe said. “That’s four years ago. And he came back after not having played for six months and managed to win the Australian Open (the next) year, winning three best-of-five set matches, which is virtually unheard of to begin with, and to win three majors post-surgery. So you never can count him out.”

Federer, whose TEAM8 management company helped create the Laver Cup, has played in each of the first three editions of the event, which pits a six-man team from Europe against a team made up of players from the rest of the world.

McEnroe and his former rival Bjorn Borg served as captains of Team World and Team Europe, respectively, for the first three events in Prague (2017), Chicago (2018) and Geneva (2019) – all won by the European team.

They will reprise those roles for the fourth edition in Boston from Sept. 25-27, which has been added to the official ATP calendar.

McEnroe said his latest meetings with Borg as coaches have been as intense as they were when they were tour players.

“There’s a lot of a lot of money at stake and pride,” McEnroe said.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”

Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach Davis Cup final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.