© Regina Cortina/ATP Tour

Denis Shapovalov beats Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup on Friday in Brisbane.

Shapo, Felix Lead Canada To First ATP Cup Win

Canadians get off to fast start in Brisbane

Canada is the first team to win a tie at the inaugural ATP Cup. The Canadians, behind singles and doubles wins from Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, earned a clean 3-0 sweep against Greece to get off to a 1-0 start in Brisbane.

“It's always amazing to be part of the team and have kind of a team feeling. It's pretty rare on the Tour, so I definitely love it and I always feel like I thrive off that atmosphere. So, yeah, I'm really happy, happy with the result today,” Shapovalov said.

Shapovalov, the country's No. 1 singles player, clinched the team victory with a 7-6(6), 7-6(4) win against World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas. The two combined to save all five break points faced, but Shapovalov, who ended 2019 by reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Paris, remained clutch in the tie-breaks at Pat Rafter Arena.

From 3/3 in the second-set tie-break, Shapovalov won four of five points, including his first match point on Tsitsipas' racquet when the Greek double faulted. Tsitsipas is the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion (d. Thiem).

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“It's definitely a huge win for me. Obviously, he had an unbelievable end to the season and he's definitely one of the top players in the world right now. He's got a great game. So to beat a guy like this in the first match of the year, it's really special for me. It means a lot,” Shapovalov said.

“I think today it was just a couple points here and there, just tried to keep playing my game, keep playing every single point and wait for my chances and I just think that I took advantage really well in the tie-breaks.”

Tsitsipas fell to 1-3 against Shapovalov in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“His serve was better than mine and in a few points in the tie-break, I didn't work out what I had to do, and I didn't have a clear picture of how I have to play,” Tsitsipas said of Shapovalov. “Today, he was just better [at] decision-making and he did things better than me.”

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To start the day, Auger-Aliassime steamrolled past Greece's Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-3 to secure the first win in ATP Cup history.

“Truly feels good to be back on the court,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I didn't know the opponent, also, so that's a factor that is always challenging when you're a player, and so I tried to focus on what I had to do. But I was happy that overall in the match I had a great first set, couldn't ask any better, and I was able to be solid in the second. So overall very happy to be back.”

The 24-team event is being played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from 3-12 January, with the Final Eight beginning on Thursday in Sydney. Auger-Aliassime, a three-time ATP Tour finalist in 2019, didn't face a break point and dominated rallies with Pervolarakis, who was making his ATP Tour main draw debut.

The 23-year-old Greek turned pro last year and went 7-8 on the ATP Challenger Tour. Auger-Aliassime is looking to build on his breakout season that saw him finish the year at No. 21 in the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings.

Obviously it is my first match on this level, first ATP match. I just wanted to focus on my game and play my best tennis and let the result come. Obviously it didn't, Felix played really well, he didn't give me any chances. It was a learning experience for me,” Pervolarakis said.

In doubles, Auger-Aliassime/Shapovalov teamed up to beat Pervolarakis/Petros Tsitsipas, Stefanos' younger brother, 6-2, 6-3 in 68 minutes.