Shapovalov beats Safiullin, giving Canada lead at ATP Cup

Denis Shapovalov defeated Russia’s Roman Safiullin on Saturday, moving Canada to within one win of reaching the ATP Cup final for the first time with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory.

All hopes for Russia, the tournament’s defending champions, now lie with Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, who will meet 11th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second singles rubber at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

The winner of the tie will meet Spain in Sunday’s final.

Saturday marked the first time in Shapovalov’s career he faced Safiullin, and the lack of familiarity showed early. Safiullin was poised to force the upset over the 14th-ranked Shapovalov, having six breakpoints at 2-1 in the deciding set.

But the 22-year-old Canadian refused to fade quietly.

Shapovalov saved each of them to hold serve, and then wielded the shift in momentum to break for 4-3 and never looked back, completing the win in two hours and 39 minutes.

“Definitely super tough. Obviously Roman is playing with a lot of confidence,” Shapovalov said. “He’s a great player and surely he’s going to have an amazing season, so I’m very happy to get the win. It was definitely very tough.

“He’s shown this competition that he definitely should be ranked in the Top 100. The way he was playing today, it was top-10, top-20 tennis, it was incredible.”

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