Day One Davis Cup – Split decision
Both matches on Friday’s opening day of the Canada – Great Britain Davis Cup World Group at the Arena at TD Place in Ottawa were one-sided affairs. In the first singles, British No. 1 Daniel Evans defeated No. 2 Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 and that was followed by Canada’s No. 1 Vasek Pospisil’s victory over No. 2 Briton Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-1, 7-6(3).
While the dramatic quotient of the matches wasn’t the most compelling, the results created the desired scenario for the weekend with the best-of-five match tie guaranteed to go into Sunday with everything still in play. The competitive balance will be tipped whichever way things turn out in Saturday’s doubles when Canadians Daniel Nestor and Pospisil face the British pairing of Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray.
There were definite similarities in both singles matches on Friday with the losing players – Shapovalov (0-2) and Edmund (0-3) failing to convert a single break point.
From the home side point of view, Pospisil’s win was welcome after Evans proved simply too solid and opportunistic for Shapovalov. The 17-year-old from Richmond Hill came out edgy in his first ever ‘live’ match in Davis Cup.
He lost his serve in the first game of the match and he would later say about the beginning, “it was quite an atmosphere and I got a little bit tight at the start. I even had trouble tossing the ball up for my serve. He’s got so much more Davis Cup experience and he’s played in bigger stadiums.”
The numbers did not flatter Shapovalov, who only made 47 per cent of his first serves to 65 per cent for Evans. “My game is aggressive and I saw the (stats) sheet and I’m gonna miss,” he said. “At the end of the day, I had my chances, he had his chances. He played better when he had chances. Sunday (reverse singles vs Edmund) is going to be the same. I’m gonna have chances and he’s gonna have chances. It’s just going to be up to who plays bigger on those points and makes the right decisions and the right shots.”
Denis Shapovalov on February 3, 2017 (Photo: Kyle Clapham).
There were certainly signs of Shapovalov’s talent – a touch half volley here and a couple on mammoth single-handed backhand cross-court blasts there – but he couldn’t match the consistency of Evans who’s at a career high ranking of No. 45 after reaching the ATP final in Sydney last month and then going to the fourth round of the Australian Open, including a win over No. 7 seed Marin Cilic in the second round.
“He’s played a lot more matches than me already this season,” Shapovalov said about Evans to whom he lost 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in the semifinals of the National Bank Challenger event last March. “He’s obviously improved his game. He’s a lot faster, he hits a lot bigger and he comes in more. But it’s more just the confidence alone and the amount of matches he’s had.”