Italy’s dream of playing in the first final of the new Davis Cup in Malaga was dashed under the aces of Felix Auger-Aliassime, who was decisive in bringing the points to Canada to make it 2-1 that would allow them to challenge Australia tomorrow. From a silver salad bowl. The doubles match on Thursday evening had escalated Italy, which had been absent from the semi-finals for eight years, but this achievement was not repeated today.
After Lorenzo Sonego beat Denis Shapovalov and Lorenzo Musetti beat Auger-Alicime, captain Volandri alongside Fabio Fognini fielded Matteo Berrettini in place of Simone Polelli who wasn’t at his best, but the blue duo capitulated to the North Americans. The duet consists of Vasek Pospisil and N. 6 in the world, who in turn are called the tired and bruised Shapovalov. The afternoon started well for the Azzurri, thanks to a powerful Songo who outlasted the talented but volatile Shapovalov with a score of 7-6, 6-7, 6-4. Great balance on the pitch in a match that also had many great moments, with several winners on both sides, with the first two sets decided by tie-breakers. In the second game, Sonego made it 5-2 but the Canadian brought it back to 5-5.
A double fault from the blue awarded another set point to Shapovalov, who did not need to be asked to equalise. In the third set, with the Italian advancing 2-1, the opponent had to request a “medical break” due to a back problem, which was resolved through the intervention of a physiotherapist. The turning point came in the seventh inning, when Songo canceled out three break points to make it 4-3. Then, in the tenth game, Shapovalov handed the game over to Italy on three double faults after more than three hours of play. The second singles match was much shorter, considering Auger-Alessime beat Mussetto 6-3, 6-4, and he didn’t feel the pressure of a match that might already be decisive. At 3-2 the Canadian went 0-40 and then conquered a break that made him fly up to 5-2. With an ace at 204 kilometers per hour, Auger-Aliassime closed the set 6-3 in 39 minutes. Blue struggled to hold serve at the start of the second set, but held out until 4-4, when two from the line served a hair-in from the Canadian again to 0-40, who took advantage of that to take the lead and then closed out 6-4, at 1 hour 25 minutes. The pair, revolutionized in the pairs in the last minute by the two captains, battled point by point, between the delicious touches of Fognini and the solidity of Berrettini on serve, but on a tie-breaking error by the Romanian immediately gave the Canadians the advantage, taking 4-2 then They manage to shut down without compromising anything else to the blues. In the second set, Italy gave the impression of being able to recover the deficit, but at the crucial moment Fognini lost a turn of serve, giving Auger-Aliassime the opportunity to go and serve for the match at 6-5. Italy advanced to 15-40, then the Canadian regained his clarity and never missed a serve again. Tomorrow will be the one to go in search of the trophy, while Italy held back but also showed, given the absence of Jannik Sinner and the semi-Brettini condition, that they can try again permanently in the coming years.
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