Vasek Pospisil won his opening singles match, then teamed with Felix Auger-Aliassime to take the deciding doubles match as Canada won its opening tie at the Davis Cup Finals tennis tournament 2-1 over South Korea on Tuesday.
The Canadians pulled out a victory in a tie that seemed likely to go the way of their opponents after the South Koreans scored a key break to go up 6-5 in the second set, then broke again in the opening game of the third set.
A doubles win became necessary after Auger-Aliassime — Canada’s top-ranked male player at No. 13 in the world — suffered a shock 7-6 (5), 6-3 defeat to No. 74 Kwon Soonwoo in his singles match.
Pospisil opened the tie with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) win over Hong Seong Chan.
A victory against South Korea was vital for a Canadian squad trying to come out of a powerful group that includes Serbia and Spain, which defeated a Canada team featuring Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime in the 2019 championship tie.
WATCH | Canadian duo Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil win doubles thriller:
Spain is being led by rising star and 2022 U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz. Serbia is without top player Novak Djokovic, who announced last week he is withdrawing due to personal reasons.
The top two teams in each group advance to the final stage, Nov. 21-27 in Malaga, Spain.
Kwon took the first set of the second singles match when he won the last three points of the tiebreak, with Auger-Aliassime committing a double-fault while facing set point.
Kwon went up two early breaks in the second set to take a 4-0 lead. Auger-Aliassime scored a break in the fifth game, but Kwon held serve the rest of the way.
WATCH | Pospisil rallies to victory:
Auger-Aliassime was not on Canada’s initial roster for the Davis Cup, but Tennis Canada announced last week he would join the squad in place of Liam Draxl and Cleeve Harper.
In the opening singles match, Pospisil had five aces and won 66 per cent of service points, compared to 57 per cent for Hong.
The Canadian overcame 43 unforced errors by hitting 34 winners, 21 more than his opponent. Pospisil broke Hong four times on 11 chances and defended four of the seven break points he faced.
WATCH | South Korea’s Kwon upsets Auger-Aliassime:
Alexis Galarneau (Laval, Que.) and Gabriel Diallo (Montreal) are the other players on Canada’s team.
Canada earned a wild card into this year’s Davis Cup after Russia was barred from competing due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Canada next faces Spain on Friday before finishing the stage Saturday against Serbia.
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