OTTAWA: Britain booked a Davis Cup quarterfinal match-up against France in odd fashion on Sunday after the decisive final singles match ended when Canada’s Denis Shapovalov hit the umpire with a ball.
The 17-year-old Israeli-born Canadian was defaulted after hitting a ball into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, handing Britain’s Kyle Edmund a 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 triumph that gave Britain a 3-2 victory in the first-round tie at Ottawa.
“It was a strange way to finish,” Edmund said. “I’ve never been part of something like that.”
Britain advanced to a quarterfinal match-up on April 7-9 against France with that winner facing either Spain or Serbia in a September semifinal.
Vasek Pospisil had blasted 25 aces in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Dan Evans after three hours and 23 minutes earlier to draw Canada level at 2-2, setting the stage for the final drama. “No one is nicer or carries themselves better for a 17 y/o than Shapovalov,” Pospisil tweeted. “Everyone can see that today was an accident. Can happen to anyone.”
Gabas suffered bruising and swelling around his left eye and was taken to a nearby hospital.
Shapovalov apologised to Gabas in the referee’s office while he was being treated.
Edmund lost to Pospisil in three sets in Friday’s singles while Shapovalov fell to Evans in Friday’s opening match of the tie. “Obviously a bit of a surprise what happened at the end there,” British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith said. “It’s a shame that it has happened that way and I feel for the young lad because he’s a great talent and he has learned a harsh lesson today. I thought Kyle, from what we saw Friday to the way he came out today, he was absolutely fantastic.”
World number one Andy Murray was absent for Britain but injured fourth-ranked Canadian Milos Raonic was also missing.
In the first reverse singles, Pospisil smacked a forehand winner to grab a 6-4 edge in the final tie-breaker. Evans answered with his seventh ace but Pospisil took the final point to keep Canada’s hopes alive. It was a busy weekend for Pospisil, who teamed with Daniel Nestor in a Saturday doubles loss to Britain’s Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray after having beaten Edmund.
Belgium SINK GERMANY
Germany crashed to a third straight Davis Cup first-round exit as Steve Darcis clinched a quarterfinals berth for Belgium with victory over teenager Alexander Zverev in Frankfurt on Sunday. Darcis needed just over three hours to secure a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) win over the 19-year-old Zverev to give Belgium an unassailable 3-1 lead before the final singles rubber.
Germany face a fight to remain in the elite World Group after being consigned to a relegation play-off while Belgium will play either champions Argentina or Italy in the quarterfinals in April.
The hosts started as favourites to win the tie after Belgian number one David Goffin dropped out to recover from his run to the quarterfinals of last month’s Australian Open.
Germany, who last won the title in 1993, had lost to the Czech Republic in last year’s opening round in Hanover and France in 2015. The hosts were under pressure after going 2-1 down to Belgium in Saturday’s doubles rubber when Alexander Zverev and elder brother Mischa, 29, lost to Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore. — AFP