Auger-Aliassime eliminates Alcaraz in the Davis Cup

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BARCELONA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime ruined Carlos Alcaraz’s comeback after battling back to beat the world’s newest top-ranked player 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2 to tie Canada with the Spain at 1-1 in the Davis Cup on Friday.

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Spaniards flocked to Valencia to see 19-year-old Alcaraz in his first game since winning the US Open last weekend.

Instead, they saw their new idol succumb to a superb Auger-Aliassime, who endured the home crowd and turned the game his way after Alcaraz dug deep to claim the tiebreaker for the first. set.

As the pavilion roared for Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime coolly responded by surgically placing blow after blow exactly where he wanted them. He dominated on his serve with 16 aces and finally broke Alcaraz late in the second set and twice in the third.

“He’s the world No. 1 and that’s a big credit for him, but today I think I was a bit better in the third set,” said 13th-placed Auger-Aliassime. “I wasn’t going to let my team down with my fighting spirit.”

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Roberto Bautista gave Spain the first point after battling back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Vasek Pospisil, who needed medical treatment on his upper left thigh. The draw of the group will be played in doubles.

Bautista helped Spain beat Serbia 3-0 on Wednesday while Alcaraz rested after returning from New York where they won their first Grand Slam on Sunday after a grueling run that included three straight wins in five sets.

Before the game, Alcaraz was busy signing autographs and posing for photos after practice. He received the biggest applause during the presentation of the Spain team and he was introduced as the “new world number 1”.

After Spanish fans had to stay up virtually all night to watch his matches at the US Open due to jet lag, it was the first chance many of his supporters had to see him play at home since May, when he had won the Madrid Open. Alcaraz beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the capital in what many saw as Nadal passing the torch to his Spanish successor.

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Red and yellow flags were draped over the pavilion’s railings, including one bearing the name of Alcaraz’s home region of Murcia, painted in large black letters. Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast, is about 2.5 hours north of Alcaraz’s hometown of El Palmar, which has a population of 24,000.

Another Spanish flag carried the message in Spanish: “Carlitos, will you give me your shirt?

Alcaraz has only had one previous encounter with Auger-Aliassime, in the 2021 US Open quarter-finals when the Spaniard had to withdraw due to injury.

As Alcaraz arrived after a tiring two weeks in the United States, Auger-Aliassime played singles and doubles on Tuesday to help Canada beat South Korea in their Davis Cup opener.

Unable to touch Auger-Aliassime’s serve, Alcaraz summoned more cheers from the stands, including his parents. He punched captain Sergi Bruguera and personal trainer Juan Carlos Ferrero after hard-earned points. He was talking to himself trying to find answers.

That proved enough for Alcaraz to complete the first-set tiebreaker after Auger-Aliassime’s untimely errors.

But Auger-Aliassime never lost the initiative. Canada captain Frank Dancevic jumped out of his shortside seat to cheer when Auger-Aliassime finally broke Alcaraz late in the second set. The Canadian poured it on it.

Alcaraz was eventually able to get four break chances as they were down 1-2 in the third, but Auger-Aliassime saved them all and fired back-to-back aces to hold serve.

And when Alcaraz hit long to give up a second set of service, a woman’s scream was heard above the moans.

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