Being the No. 1 seeds can sometimes be a curse more than a blessing. But the Canadian junior Davis Cup squad, led by US Open junior doubles champions Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, withstood the pressure even if they needed the deciding doubles match against Germany in the final Friday to get it done.
They lifted the junior Davis Cup for the first time in Canada's history after defeating Germany 2-1. The 2010 squad, led by Filip Peliwo, reached the final but couldn't take that final step.
Meanwhile, the Canadian girls' team, led by Blainville, Que's Charlotte Robillard-Millette and Mississauga, Ont's Bianca Andreescu, shook off the disappointment of their semi-final loss to Russia on Friday and rebounded to win the bronze against Russia.
It was after midnight in Beijing, where Vasek Pospisil was practicing in advance of the China Open. But he was on the job.
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) October 4, 2015
Shapovalov got the Canadians off to a solid start with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over fellow No. 2 singles player Marvin Moeller. Then, to the surprise of most, Félix Auger-Aliassime lost to German No. 1 Nicola Kuhn.
Kuhn, another talented 15-year-old – gosh, they're making 15-year-olds awfully big these days – but still five months younger than Auger-Aliassime and outside the top 100 in the world junior rankings, upset the heavily-favoured Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 despite a heavily-wrapped left leg, and a taped right knee. He could hardly walk, but he got it done. (Moeller, as well, had heavy taping on his upper right leg).
So it all came down to the doubles, where the Germans bowed to the superior doubles prowess of the Canadian team and basically tried to win it from the baseline. They had their chances, but pure doubles won out and the 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory had the Canadian squad dusting themselves up with red clay as they hit the court in celebration.
After he and Auger-Aliassime won the US Open junior doubles as an unseeded (and very young) team, Shapovalov predicted that the Grand Slam victory could create a bit of an intimidation factor once they got to Madrid for the team competition. There might have been some of that here; and that experience in New York served them well as the entire championships came down to this one doubles match.
— Copa Davis (@CopaDavis) October 4, 2015
After overcoming an early break to go on a run and take the first set, the Canadians lost their composure a little in the second. The Germans had been trying to outhit them from the back court – notably, both retreating to the baseline when the Canadians hit second serves, which is counterintuitive in the extreme, and often forcing the Canadians to hit two, three, four volleys to get the job done on the red clay.
They stuck with pure doubles, though, and they volleyed like demons down the stretch.
The Canadians got their mojo back back in the third, breaking the Germans to lead 2-0 and coming back from love-40 down on Auger-Aliassime's serve to hold for 3-0.
They found themselves down love-40 again at 3-1; after fighting off two break points, they couldn't save the third and suddenly, the outcome was in doubt again.
At 3-2, they were down 40-15 on the Germans' serve but converted on a third break opportunity with Auger-Aliassime pounding several inside-out forehands from his position in the ad court to force the play. That was pretty much it; by the final game, when Kuhn was serving to keep the Germans in it, it was clear that he couldn't push off his leg at all and was just arming his serve in.
— Mutua Madrid Open (@MutuaMadridOpen) October 4, 2015
Click here for the International Tennis Federation's live blog; there's lot of good stuff in there.
Here's what they told the ITF's Sandy Harwitt (they'd calmed down quite a bit by then):
The girls came by to cheer on their male counterparts after sweeping Russia 3-0. Robillard-Millette and Andreescu both won their singles in straight sets, while Andreescu and Vanessa Wong won the dead doubles rubber 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
All in all, that's some nice hardware to take home.