Finland knock holders Canada out of Davis Cup


Canada's reign as Davis Cup champions has been ended by outsiders Finland, who produced a big shock on the opening day of the Final Eight in Malaga.

Roared on by thousands of Finnish fans, Otto Virtanen and Harri Heliovaara beat Vasek Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau 7-5 6-3 on Tuesday to move in to the semi-finals for the first time.

"We are not in Finland but we feel like we are in Finland," Virtanen said.

"I love the pressure of playing in front of these fans, it just makes me play better every time, all the support I get. It means everything to play for my country. Today was amazing."

Milos Raonic, playing in the event for the first time in five years, had given Canada the perfect start as he dispatched lowly-ranked Finn Patrick Kaukovalta 6-3 7-5 thanks to 18 aces.

Both teams were hit by injuries with Canada's top-ranked player Felix Auger-Aliassime unable to take to the court, while Finland's No.1 Emil Ruusuvuori was also ruled out.

But 171st-ranked Virtanen stepped up for his country with an impressive defeat of fellow 22-year-old Gabriel Diallo to take the tie into a deciding doubles rubber.

Virtanen again produced some stunning tennis, while Canada's hopes were not helped by an injury to Pospisil who battled on.

A service break in the eighth game of the second set proved enough and Finland sealed the win to set up a clash later this week against Czech Republic or last year's runners-up Australia, which takes place in Spain on Wednesday.

"Obviously it's a great moment now today and it's still not time to celebrate. We have the chance to go even further," Finland captain Jarkko Nieminen said.

"With this great feeling and confidence, it's really nice to step on court on Friday. It's incredible, the whole journey with these guys since I started as a captain."

Reaching the eight-team finals was already Finland's biggest success in the prestigious team event, after advancing from a September group stage including the United States and Croatia.

The other two quarter-finals are on Thursday, with Italy facing the Netherlands and Novak Djokovic's Serbia taking on Great Britain.

With AP & DPA.