Photo : Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis
The Canadian Davis Cup team received a real shot in the arm when it was announced that world no. 13 Félix Auger-Aliassime would be joining the squad this week in Valencia for the group stage of the Finals. Faced with the difficult task of finishing in the top two of a tough group that includes Spain, Serbia and the Republic of Korea, Canada is certainly embracing the welcome addition of their top player.
While the 22-year-old has gained a lot of experience on the ATP Tour over the past few seasons, his exposure to the unique environment of Davis Cup is limited. He’s making his first appearance in the prestigious international competition since 2019 and he’s only played six matches so far in his young career, including Tuesday’s doubles victory with Vasek Pospisil.
Auger-Aliassime’s going to have to quickly adjust to his surroundings because he’s about to go up against the other headliners in Group B: new World No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz as well as Miomir Kecmanovic. The good news is that the Montreal native has never met a challenge that he didn’t like and the bigger the occasion, the more his level rises.
Establishing Himself as a Contender
Over the past nine months, Auger-Aliassime has evolved into a Top 10 player and step by step, he’s inching closer to an Alcaraz-like breakthrough.
At the Australian Open in January, he pushed Daniil Medvedev to five sets in a thrilling quarter-final encounter that could have gone either way. He followed up that memorable performance with his first ATP title in nine tries at the 500 event in Rotterdam thanks to victories over Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the championship match. The following week, he reached his tenth career final at Marseille.
At Roland-Garros in June, Auger-Aliassime was involved in yet another high-profile Grand Slam match against the King of Clay Rafael Nadal and he came awfully close to passing the ultimate test in tennis with flying colours. The 14-time champion needed his best stuff and five gruelling sets to eliminate the inspired Canadian.
Auger-Aliassime has proven time and time again that he was born for the spotlight which means that he should thrive as Canada’s Davis Cup No. 1. This is his team now and the time has come for him to take the reins. With a little help from Pospisil and captain Frank Dancevic, he’ll grow into his new leadership role and what better way to make a statement than to lead his country to the knock-out stage when people least expect it? In 2019, Auger-Aliassime and the Canadian squad made a historic run the final before falling to Spain, so they have a chance at redemption this weekend, not to mention the possibility to play for the trophy once more.
With so much at stake in the coming days, Canadian fans know that their star player will bring his best to the court when it matters most and give his underdog team an opportunity to pull off the unexpected. After all, he’s given them every reason to expect nothing less from him.