October 1, 2022

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU EVER NEEDED

No FAA, no Shapovalov for Davis Cup final rounds

No FAA, No Shapo for Davis Cup in September

The timing of the Davis Cup Finals preliminary rounds is not ideal, immediately after the US Open.

Still, the top two Canadians – the only ones ranked in the top 140 – will not be part of it.

With today the day for announcements of the squads for the various teams taking part in the round-robin portion of the event, to be held the week of Sept. 13-18, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov will once again not be part of the team.

The five-player squad will include veteran Vasek Pospisil along with Alexis Galarneau and college players Liam Draxl (ranked No. 492), Gabriel Diallo (at No. 553 after jumping more than 100 spots with his first-round qualifying win last week in Montreal against James Duckworth) and Cleeve Harper (No. 784).

20-year-old Gabriel Diallo, who plays for the University of Kentucky, joins the Davis Cup squad for the first time. (Photo: Tennis Canada/Patrice Lapointe)

The Canadian team is in a pool with Spain, Serbia and South Korea and will play in Valencia, Spain.

Spain won’t have Rafael Nadal (unless there is a last-minute change). But Carlos Alcaraz and Omnium Banque Nationale champion Pablo Carreño Busta lead a full squad.

The other cities hosting round-robins are Bologna, Glasgow and Hamburg.

The top two in each group qualify for the finals, to be held Nov. 21-27 in Málaga, Spain.

Bonus spot in the finals

Canada wouldn’t have made the finals at all but for the ban on Russia. As the highest-ranked country losing in the qualifiers earlier this year, they got the pass.

Other than Pospisil, Galarneau is the only player with Davis Cup experience; he was on the team that played in the qualifying against the Netherlands last February.

Harper (front) and Draxl made their Omnium Banque National debut last week in Montreal.

Draxl and Harper (the NCAA doubles champion this year out of the University of Texas) got a wild card into the Omnium Banque Nationale last week and lost to the Italian team of Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli.

Auger-Aliassime hasn’t played Davis Cup since the 2019 final, when he lost the first rubber to Roberto Bautista-Agut and Spain. That was the only year he took part.

Shapovalov, who first played Davis Cup in 2016, also hasn’t played since that 2019 final, when he lost the second rubber to Rafael Nadal.

So it’s not an exception; it seems to be more of a pattern.

Given that nearly every other nation in the round-robin portion is fielding its very best players (with the exception of Rafael Nadal and Spain), their absence very much stands out.

Other squads full

The Americans, who also hope to make a good run at their home Slam, nevertheless are fielding a solid squad for Davis Cup.

Alexander Zverev, who has been out since suffering a terrible ankle injury at Roland Garros, has been announced as part of the German squad playing in Hamburg, the city of his birth.

Nick Kyrgios is not part of the Australian squad. But that’s been a bit touch-and-go of late and the Aussie had already announced that he’s also skipping Laver Cup, which takes place right after that.

After a long trip away through the grass-court season and now the American hard-court swing, he’s going home.

Novak Djokovic is set to lead a squad that also includes all of Serbia’s best singles players. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he will have missed the entire summer swing including Montreal and Cincinnati, and likely the US Open as well.

The Italian squad, playing at home in Bologna, also is fully locked and loaded in this announcement.