Following a pulsating and memorable Davis Cup tie in Ottawa between Great Britain and Canada, we take a look at the five things we can take out of the tie for the rest of the 2017 season and beyond. The tie had a little bit of everything. Great tennis, the return to form of some top singles players and it finished with a controversial ending, where Denis Shapovalov struck the tennis ball in frustration at the umpire Arnaud Gabas and subsequently getting defaulted on the spot.
First lesson: Never drill a tennis ball in frustration at any indoor event
It goes without saying that you do not smack a tennis ball out of sight without suffering the consequences, particularly at an indoor event. Shapavolov was asking for trouble. If he did not hit the umpire square in the face then he would more than likely of connected with one of the spectators inside the arena and the Canadian is rightfully dealing with the repercussions of his actions.
It is a very sad way to conclude such a great Davis Cup tie. There were a lot of growing storylines like Dan Evans emerging as a great player for the Great Britain team and also whether Shapovalov could pull off the unthinkable and clinch a Davis Cup fifth and deciding rubber at the age of 17. The whole incident really overshadows some of the great tennis that had taken place over the three days, but more importantly it could have had a damning effect on the career of the umpire.
Second lesson: Pospisil still has loads to offer on the singles court
On a more positive note, we learned that Vasek Pospisil had unfinished business on the singles court. The Canadian became a player that tennis fans took notice of when he climbed to the semi-final of the Canada Masters in 2013, that really was his breakthrough year, but his progress has not really been plain sailing by any stretch of the imagination.
After striking up a very good partnership with America’s Jack Sock, Pospisil managed to win the Wimbledon doubles title in 2014, which forced many to contemplate whether Pospisil had much of a future on the singles court. The wins over Kyle Edmund and Evans in Ottawa will give Pospisil a massive lift for the remainder of the season. It has been a while since he racked up meaningful match wins, and now he has the additional confidence to make some more noise on the ATP tour and to get back into the World’s Top 100 in singles.
Third lesson: Great Britain are still a strong outfit without the World No.1 Murray
Many argue that Great Britain would not be in the position of competing for Davis Cup trophies if it was not for the contribution of World No.1 Andy Murray, who prioritised his schedule around winning the Davis Cup in 2015, but what this group of players have shown is that they can get the job done without their best player. That must be an incredible feeling for the Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, who will now recognise that he has strength in numbers with the arrival of Evans and Edmund and even Dom Inglot‘s contribution on the doubles court.
Fourth lesson: The importance of a collective team in Davis Cup format
As many have discovered, the Davis Cup format really does require the effort and collaboration of many of the team’s players. The great teams like France, who may not boast a Grand Slam champion, but they have strength in depth with Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and many more situated inside the Top 100.
The majority of teams will have an obvious focal point that guides the group to unrivalled success, but it all comes down to how well the No.2 players back up the team’s No.1 player. A prime example of that was Edmund’s efforts in the Davis Cup final in 2015. He may not have beaten David Goffin, but he kept the Belgian out on court for five sets, which I believe played a part in helping Murray seal to tie with that beautifully crafted lob winner on match point. Every great Davis Cup team make the most of every single player and value the contributions of each individual.
Fifth lesson: Denis Shapovalov is a name to be remembered for good and bad reasons
The match might have ended with a recklessly struck ball by the teen hitting the umpire and his getting defaulted, but his tennis game is impressive enough to suggest that he has a bright future in the game. He already has notable wins on the ATP tour and already has tasted the elite level of playing for your country at Davis Cup level. The Canadian will learn a lot from the matches he played this weekend and will also take the positives despite not being able to complete the match against Edmund in the fifth rubber.
The serve is a weapon and is a tricky serve to handle because he is a left-handed player. He also relies on a very great net game, while also trading from the baseline, which shows he is no one trick pony. His ability to make a good account of himself in the forecourt as well as the baseline will take him far in this sport. The main area that will need a lot of work is applying himself to the physical side of the game, so that he can grow into the player that he wants to be that can compete on a variety of different surfaces and not just the rare quick courts available on tour.
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