Auger-Aliassime, Rublev in ATP Finals as Fritz, Nadal lose

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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PARIS – Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev qualified for the ATP Finals after Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz, the other contenders for the two remaining spots, lost in the second round of the Paris Masters.

Eighth-seeded Auger-Aliassime outlasted qualifier Mikael Ymer 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (6) to next play wild-card entry Gilles Simon, who overcame ninth-seeded Fritz 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime saved 14 of 17 break points and converted four of five to extend his winning streak to 14 matches.

Fritz failed to convert three set points on Simon’s serve at 5-4 in the opening set. The American also failed to convert any of the three break points he had at 3-2 in the final set. He made 36 unforced errors to 16 for Simon, who is ranked 188th and plans to retire after this tournament.

Teenager Holger Rune stunned 10th-seeded Hurkacz 7-5, 6-1 to meet Rublev, who reached the third round on Tuesday.

Before the Paris Masters, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had already qualified for the eight-man tournament in Turin from Nov. 13-20.

Alcaraz, Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti also advanced to the third round in Paris, while Nadal’s 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 loss to Tommy Paul raised questions about his fitness in his first singles match since the U.S. Open.

The second-seeded Nadal made 19 unforced errors to 18 for Paul and dropped serve three times in the final set, almost looking resigned.

“At the end, I need days on the tour,” Nadal said. “It’s true that for the last five months I didn’t spend enough days on the tour. I don’t even say competing on a tennis court. I say on the tour. Practicing with the guys. That’s what I need.”

Paul next plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who edged Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4.

De Minaur upset fourth-seeded Medvedev 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to next face Frances Tiafoe, who beat Jack Draper 6-3, 7-5.

De Minaur beat Medvedev for the first time in five meetings.

After rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final set, De Minaur failed to convert his first two match points at 5-4. He hit a return out on the first match point and made an unforced error on the second.

But the Australian got two more chances at 6-5. Medvedev saved the third match point with a service winner before double-faulting on the fourth and angrily throwing his racket to the ground.

“I’m glad I played a very tactical match,” De Minaur told Tennis Channel. “I just tried to wait for my right ball and just back myself and back my volley.”

Medvedev, who won the Paris Masters in 2020 and was runner-up last year, dropped serve in the first set by overhitting a smash in the final game. But the Russian capitalized on unforced errors by De Minaur to break twice in the second set.

The top-seeded Alcaraz downed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4 to rack up more points in his chase for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Alcaraz hit 30 winners to seven for the Japanese player and will next play Grigor Dimitrov who dispatched lucky loser Fabio Fognini 6-0, 7-5.

Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas beat Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 to lead the ATP tour with 58 wins this year.

Tsitsipas raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set. He then hit a forehand winner across court to break Evans in the opening game of the second, before converting his first match point with an ace.

“I’m happy with the level of tennis I brought when I had to,” Tsitsipas said. “I was moving well, I was dictating well. I combined everything, including my defense.”

Tsitsipas will take on Corentin Moutet, who beat Cameron Norrie 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (3).

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

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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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.