There won’t be a repeat of Canada making it to the Davis Cup men’s tennis final like they did in 2019.
The Canadian Davis Cup team presented by Sobeys, which includes Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil, was knocked out of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals following a 3-0 loss to Kazakhstan in Group B on Sunday, Nov. 28, at Madrid Arena in Spain.
Captain Frank Dancevic made a change to his lineup from Thursday’s tie against Sweden as Brayden Schnur (Pickering, Ont.) replaced Steven Diez (Toronto) for the first singles match against Kazakhstan.
He took on Mikhail Kukushkin in what was the first-ever meeting between the players. Schnur put on a battling display but the first set would be decided by a single break of serve which went the way of his opponent, who claimed it 6-3. However, with Kukushkin up a break and with match point in the second set, Schnur showed great resilience to break back before winning the set-deciding tiebreak 7-5.
The Canadian kept pushing and was hitting a variety of powerful forehands as well as deft drop shots. The third set was an intense affair, with both players dropping serve early. It remained level until, at 6-5 up, Kukushkin broke Schnur again to claim the set 7-5 and the match.
In the tie’s second singles rubber, Pospisil faced World No. 36 Alexander Bublik, who had beaten Mikael Ymer in Kazakhstan’s 2-1 win over Sweden on Saturday. This match in Madrid was the first meeting between the two players.
Two breaks for Bublik in the first set, in which he had a 100 per cent first serve percentage, saw the 24-year-old take it 6-2, despite Pospisil’s best efforts.
The second set was evenly matched and remained on serve meaning a tiebreak was required to separate the two players. It was Bublik who came out on top, claiming it 8-6 to win the match and the tie for Kazakhstan.
“He served well,” Pospisil said to Tennis Canada in his post-match press conference. “I just didn’t play my best. For me, that’s disappointing. I just feel like I’m not as sharp these last few weeks on the court as I’d like to be.
“It’s obviously disappointing for our team to go out the way we did but we fought hard, we tried to do our best and that’s it. Now I’ll go home, have a bit of a break and get ready for next year.”
Dancevic made a change to his doubles lineup before the third match got underway, subbing in Peter Polansky (Toronto) for Pospisil to partner Schnur. They would face Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov. In what was a dead rubber in terms of the outcome of the tie, Schnur and Polansky fought well but we’re ultimately undone by their opponents, losing 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1.
Sunday’s results mean Team Canada is now out of the Davis Cup Finals and will play a Qualifiers tie in 2022. The draw for the Qualifiers will be made on Sunday Dec. 5 in Madrid.
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