Malaga, Spain: Felix Auger-Aliassime finished double duty on Saturday to lead Canada to the Davis Cup Final against Australia with a 2-1 victory over Italy.
World number six Auger-Aliassime defeated Lorenzo Musetti for the first time 6-3 6-4 after Lorenzo Sonego earlier beat Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in Rubber start from the semi-finals.
Then the 22-year-old Canadian replaced the out-of-form Shapovalov to partner Vaske Pospisil in the decider, the punt coming 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 over Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini. .
Berrettini, ranked 16th in singles but only 827 in doubles, replaced Simone Polelli but a late substitution of captain Filippo Volandri backfired.
Canada, runners-up to Spain in 2019, will try Sunday to win the Davis Cup for the first time. Australia had not played in a final since 2003, when they claimed their 28th title.
In the two-hour doubles encounter, the Italians regretted succumbing to the early break in both sets.
The Canadian duo broke decisively 6-5 in the second set before clinching their place in the championship match, leaving Italy still stuck for the Davis Cup title back in 1976.
“We knew we could make changes if we needed to,” said Auger Aliassime.
“The whole team has attached to this idea – the main goal of lifting the trophy on Sunday. There are no egos and it feels great.”
Canada’s captain Frank Dancevich said he chose Auger Aliassime in the doubles because he was the best player.
“Vazek, he plays great with both Dennis and Felix,” he said.
“Dennis played a really long game today. Felix was more fresh. He was feeling good on the field. He was new to going into the game. That was kind of the thinking behind the decision.
“Dennis really let his heart down today. He played a match for 3 hours and 15 minutes. It was hard to come back to play doubles today when we had Felix who was fresh.”
Italy captain Filippo Volandri has revealed that Berrettini’s late signing resulted from an injury to veteran Bolelli.
“Yesterday I asked Mathieu to try and prepare for the day in case we have to play doubles. He decided to try to be there, he trained twice yesterday. He trained alone this morning and he was ready,” said Volandri.
“I’m really proud of all the team members, because when I tell them to try to do something, they always do it. That’s why I’m really proud of them.”
Earlier this week, Auger-Aliassime, Malaga’s singles player of the week, served two games and fired 12 aces past 23rd seed Musetti in a comfortable victory.
World number 45 Sonego won in 3 hours and 14 minutes after two consecutive mistakes from 18th-ranked Shapovalov, who won his only previous meeting in Rome earlier this year.
Shapovalov paid dearly for converting just one of his 13 break points as Sonego could finish the tie in straight sets after leading 5-2 in the second set tiebreak. Australia reached the final on Friday with a 2-1 victory over last year’s runners-up Croatia.