(Bologna) Although deprived of the services of Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, its two best players, Canada will be able to defend its Davis Cup champion title in a little over two months, in Spain.
The team led by captain Frank Dancevic achieved this feat following the victory, Saturday, of Laval player Alexis Galarneau in two sets of 6-3, 7-6 (5) against the Chilean Alejandro Tabilo, a player native of Toronto, in the group stage of the tournament on Saturday in Bologna, Italy.
“It was special. I have known Alejandro since junior level,” explained Galarneau. “He grew up in Canada and I knew what to expect. I know he is a great fighter. »
When Tabilo sent a backhand volley into the net on match point, Galarneau leapt into the air and shook his right fist.
He then grabbed with his right hand the Tennis Canada logo embroidered on the right side of his red sweater, placed a brief kiss on it before proudly pointing it in the direction of his teammates, including Shapovalov, on site even though he was not could not play due to a knee injury this summer.
Dancevic then came over to Galarneau to give him a warm hug near the net before quickly passing his hand over the top of his head.
“First and foremost, it’s another chance to win the title,” Galarneau said when asked what he thought about Canada qualifying for the quarterfinals of the tournament. tournament elimination.
Moreover, this proves that it was not a fluke last year: we should not be taken lightly. We’re number one in the world, so we didn’t want to detract from that ranking, and I think that’s what we’re doing at the moment.
For Galarneau, it was a second singles victory this week. Wednesday, during Canada’s first match, he surprised the Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 38e world player, in two rounds. Galarneau also collected two doubles victories with veteran Vasek Pospisil against Italy and Thursday against Sweden.
“This victory definitely takes some pressure off the team in general. But coming here, winning four matches, ideally a fifth in doubles, it confirms all the work I put in, the work of my team too. It’s encouraging for the future,” analyzed Galarneau.
This victory that Galarneau wants in doubles materialized when the Laval resident and Pospisil defeated the tandem formed by Tabilo and Tomás Barrios Vera 6-3, 7-6 (7).
Between the two matches in which Galarneau was involved, Montrealer Gabriel Diallo lost in two sets of 6-4, 6-4 against Nicolás Jarry, 22e world player.
Ranked 158e in the world, Diallo, a 2.03 m giant aged only 21, had won his two previous singles matches this week, against the Italian Lorenzo Musetti, 18e in the world, and to the Swede Elias Ymer, ranked 175e. Each time, he had achieved the feat in two sets.
Despite Diallo’s loss on Saturday, Canada was assured of finishing among the top two teams in Group A, following victories by identical 3-0 scores against Italy and Sweden.
Seven other nations will participate in the elimination phase, from November 21 to 26 in Malaga, Spain.
Led by Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov, Canada won the Davis Cup for the first time in its history last year thanks to a final victory against Australia.
Ranked 200e in the world, Galarneau held off Tabilo, who entered the competition at 124e rank in the ATP rankings.
The 24-year-old from Laval ignored his rival’s eight aces – who committed no double faults – and his success rate of 79% in first serves to score two breaks of service, both in the first set.
This second break by Galarneau allowed him to give himself a 5-3 lead and concluded a sequence of three games during which both players lost their serve.
Galarneau secured the first set after 43 minutes of action when Tabilo sent a forehand into the net.
The second round lasted 62 minutes and was hotly contested. The two rivals played with aplomb on serve until Galarneau was the first to find himself in a precarious position, during the 10e game.
With a 5-4 lead, Tabilo managed to give himself two set points, but each time, Galarneau forced him to send a backhand into the net. The same scenario repeated itself two points later when the Laval player faced a third set point.
During the deciding game, Galarneau gave himself cushions of 4-0 and 5-2 before seeing the Chilean reduce his lead to 6-5.
Tabilo’s latest mistake would allow Canada to celebrate another appearance in the final round of the Davis Cup.