Australia's dreams of a 29th Davis Cup title and first in 19 years have been crushed by Canada in heartbreaking scenes in Malaga. Canada won their first Davis Cup title in the 122-year history of the competition, taking down the Aussies 2-0 in Sunday's final.
In the first rubber, Thanasi Kokkinakis was put to the sword by Denis Shapovalov. Alex de Minaur then got shredded 6-3 6-4 by Felix Auger-Aliassime as Canada lifted the men's World Cup of tennis for the first time.
'BIT OF A BLOW': Novak Djokovic in sad news ahead of Aus Open
Australia's frustrating 19-year wait for a 29th title goes on after their courageous, unexpected run to the final in Malaga ended with the searing quality of two top-20 stars proving too much for Lleyton Hewitt's battlers. The Aussie captain was left devastated in the aftermath.
"I'm gutted for the boys. They've put in the commitment and the work and done absolutely everything right all year," said Hewitt. "They left it all out there once again. We came up slightly short, but I couldn't be prouder - and all of Australia should be proud."
Canada's victory was the most one-sided of the entire finals week and there was no need for a deciding doubles, which would have featured the Aussie pairing of Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell against Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil. No team without a top-20 player has won the title since Argentina in 2016 and that lack of an Australian world-beater was glaring on Sunday as they missed out on a first triumph since 2003.
After a dejected Kokkinakis was left scolding himself for being "pretty much useless" in his 6-2 6-4 thrashing by an inspired Shapovalov, the never-say-die Australian No.1 de Minaur knew he'd need a potentially career-defining win over Auger-Aliassime. But de Minaur was a picture of misery after the world No.6's languid power eventually overwhelmed his defiance.
The big names were out in force among the 9500 crowd at the Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena in the Spanish resort, with Novak Djokovic bringing his son along to watch and soccer star Gerard Pique, overlord of the new-look Davis Cup, in the VIP tribune. And they were all wowed by Auger-Aliassime.
"It's a dream come true," beamed the 22-year-old, who'd won the junior Davis Cup title with Shapovalov in 2015 in a partnership that could now go on to dominate the senior competition after two finals in three years. "It's a special team. Hopefully, this generation will be able to bring this very far."
Aussies shattered after loss in Davis Cup final
De Minaur, who bases himself in Spain and was cheered on by his family, said afterwards: "It's tough, but so many Australian Davis Cup players have followed our journey throughout the whole year every step and were riding this roller coaster with us. It just shows what a family this Australian Davis Cup team is."
Shapovalov, who had a mixed week in Malaga and struggled with a back problem his semi-final loss on Saturday, chose the perfect time to display his full repertoire of knifing skills against the outclassed Kokkinakis.
Whether Kokkinakis, who'd lost his semi-final rubber against Croatia's Borna Coric, should have been chosen rather than Thompson, who'd won his quarter-final singles rubber, was debatable. But neither could have coped with Shapovalov in this mood.
Kokkinakis, who hadn't played a tour singles match for eight weeks before Malaga, struggled against the world No.18. Shapovalov sprayed 23 winners in all with rapier-like shots off both wings in an 89-minute lesson for the Aussie.
It's pretty insane. It wasn't that long ago (thinking past fifteen, twenty, thirty years) players LEFT Canada, or their national programs, for greener pastures (Rusedski, Pierce, etc), even though had dual citizenship. Now a powerhouse. Same for countries with cold climates.
— AMiller (@milleropoulos) November 27, 2022
Damn the aussies fumbled at the last hurdle in both BJK and Davis Cup, maybe good for atleast the finals of United cup
— Preston (@dimsumsomedumb) November 27, 2022
It's sad that Canada is out of the World Cup ... but to make up for it about an hour ago Canada won the Davis Cup - the World Cup of Tennis over the Aussies. 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 https://t.co/G7BIvb8fpK
— Paolo Del Nibletto (@PaoloCDN) November 27, 2022
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.