Friday, December 9, 2022

Auger-Aliassime, the ‘unexpected’ protagonist of the Davis Cup in Malaga

In any tournament on the world circuit, that the top favorite to win the title was number 6 in the ATP ranking would be something very logical, as well as a serious attraction to keep an eye on… but this is the Davis Cup. The 8 best teams on the planet are measured from Tuesday at the Martin Carpena to win the Salad Bowl that elevates the champion and, among the teams that start as top favorites is Canada, thanks to one of the representatives of the ‘Next Gen’ that in recent months has begun to dominate world tennis. Is about Felix Auger-Aliassimeand debuts in the tournament this Thursday afternoon against Germany.

The unfortunate and successive list of casualties that have been announced since spring for these Davis Cup Finals (namely: Alexander Zverev, Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Jannick Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz Y Matteo Berrettini) in addition to the eliminations in September of other illustrious names such as Cameron Norrie, Andy Murray and, above all, Novak Djokovic, have ‘left him alone’ as the best-ranked tennis player who has set foot in Malaga since this week leading a team that complete Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil, Alexis Galarneau Y gabriel diallo.

Forehanded and with a two-handed backhand, Auger-Aliassime has added the four individual titles that he has in his record in this 2022 that will end up in the aforementioned number 6 in the ATP ranking. Rotterdam, Florence, Antwerp and Basel, all four hard courts, the surface on which this 22-year-old Canadian who turned in August performs best, trained by Toni Nadal and who arrives in Malaga, however, after being eliminated in the group stage of the ATP Finals in Turin, where he only won one match against his coach’s nephew: indeed, Rafael Nadal (6-3 and 6-4). Auger-Aliassime began the year by winning the ATP Cup with Canada against Spain and reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, where he starred in a tough match against Alexander Davidovich in which the tennis player from Malaga demanded the maximum and, as an example, the score: 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 and 7-6 in a four hour and 19 minute match. In the rest of the ‘big’ of the year -Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open- the Canadian had a more than discreet performance, being the quarterfinals in Paris, in which he led Nadal to the fifth set, the best result. of the. Just as discreet was his presence in the clay court season and in the Masters 1,000 of the circuit, where he failed to get into the top four on any occasion. And just a month ago, at the Basel tournament, he managed his most prestigious win of the year to date, by beating the brand new number 1 in world tennis, Carlos Alcaraz, in the semifinals (6-3 and 6-2) to later beat the Danish Holger Rune in the final and win the title. Curiously, the Canadian player has taken the measure of Alcaraz, whom he has surpassed the three times they have faced each other: the last time in Basel, in the Spain-Canada tie for the Davis Cup in September and, last year, in the United States Open, due to the withdrawal of the young Murcian tennis player.

In the Davis Cup, the Canadian presents a record of five wins and four losses in his nine appearances for the North American team since he was first called up in 2019.

A double session Thursday

Auger-Aliassime does not come into action until the third day of the tournament, and the competition calendar has wanted this Thursday to be, for tennis lovers, a most appetizing day in morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning, starting at ten, Italy and the United States meet at Carpena for a place in the semifinals. The transalpine team will try not to accuse too much the loss of first Jannick Sinner and second the one that was until the weekend, their main hope in the Davis Cup in Malaga: Matteo Berrettini. With the absence of numbers 15 and 16 from the ATP ranking, the responsibility falls on the rackets of Lorenzo Sonego, Lorenzo Musetti, the veteran Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli. In front of them, the United States, which has been planted in the Carpena Finals with a quartet of guarantees that makes it one of the great favorites (if not the maximum) to lift the title next Sunday afternoon: they are made up of Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul Y Jack Sock.

In the afternoon, never before four o’clock, what seems at first glance to be the most unbalanced quarterfinal tie of all will take place. Without Alexander Zverev, seriously injured during his Roland Garros match against Nadal back in June, Germany faces Canada with a team made up of Oscar Otte, Yannick Hanfmann, Jan Lennard Struff, Tim Puetz and Kevin Krawietz, none classified beyond the 65th position in the world ranking. Anything short of seeing Canada, led by Felix Auger-Aliassime, in Saturday’s semifinals will be a surprise.

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