Felix Auger-Aliassime spoils the homecoming for Carlos Alcaraz, new world No. 1, and equals Canada with Spain in the Davis Cup

Barcelona, ​​Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime ruined the homecoming of Carlo Alcaraz after fighting his way back to beat the world’s newest top player 6-7(3) 6-4 6-2 to level with Spain 1-1 in Davis Cup Canada on Friday.

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

Instead, they saw their new idol succumb to a superb Auger aliassime who endured the partisan crowd and tipped the match his way after Alcaraz dug deep to claim the first set tiebreak.

“Felix is ​​a beast. Physically and mentally, Felix is ​​one of the best in the world,” said Alcaraz. “I was right there and I was fighting but I couldn’t show my top form. I missed the details.

“I arrived in not very good physical condition,” he added. “It was a very tough day but I have to congratulate him because he showed an incredible game.”

As the pavilion roared for Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime responded coolly, surgically placing shot after shot exactly where he wanted. He dominated on serve with 16 aces, eventually breaking Alcaraz late in the second set and twice in the third.

“He’s number 1 in the world and he has a lot of credit for that, but today I was a little better in the third set,” said Auger-Aliassime in 13th place. “I didn’t want to let my team settle down with my fighting spirit.”

Roberto Bautista gave Spain the first point after battling back 3-6 6-3 6-3 Vasek Pospisil, who required medical treatment on his left thigh. The group game will be decided in doubles.

Bautista helped Spain beat Serbia 3-0 on Wednesday while Alcaraz rested after flying home from New York, where he won his first Grand Slam on Sunday after a grueling run of three wins in five sets.

Before the tie, Alcaraz was busy signing autographs and posing for photos after training. He received the biggest applause when the Spanish team was unveiled and he was introduced as the ‘new world No. 1’.

After the game, he didn’t focus on the loss but on the joy of being back home.

“I wanted to come back to Spain, I wanted to share this moment to be number 1 and become US Open champion with all my people,” said Alcaraz. “I always love to come back to Spain to be with my family and friends here with my team.”

After Spanish fans had to stay up practically all night to watch his matches at the US Open due to the time difference, this was the first opportunity to see him play at home since May when he won the Madrid Open. Alcaraz beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the capital, where many saw Nadal pass the torch to his Spanish successor.

Red and yellow flags were draped over the pavilion’s railings, including one with the name of Alcaraz’s home region, Murcia, painted in large black letters. Valencia on the Mediterranean coast is about 2½ hours north of Alcaraz’ hometown of El Palmar with a population of 24,000.

Another Spanish flag read in Spanish: “Carlitos, will you give me your shirt?”

Alcaraz had previously only met Auger-Aliassime once in the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open when the Spaniard was forced to retire through injury.

While Alcaraz returned after a busy two weeks in the US, Auger-Aliassime played singles and doubles on Tuesday to help Canada beat South Korea in the Davis Cup opener.

Alcaraz failed to touch Auger-Aliassime’s serve, eliciting more cheers from the stands that included his parents. He pumped his fist at captain Sergi Bruguera and his personal trainer Juan Carlos Ferrero after hard-fought points. He was talking to himself, trying to find answers.

That was enough for Alcaraz to earn the tiebreak of the first set after Auger-Aliassime’s untimely errors.

But Auger-Aliassime never lost the initiative. Canada captain Frank Dancevic jumped up from his spot off the pitch to cheer when Auger-Aliassime finally broke Alcaraz late in the second set. The Canadian poured it up.

Alcaraz eventually managed to create four break chances while trailing 2-1 in the third but Auger-Aliassime saved them all, firing off consecutive aces to hold serve.

And as Alcaraz batted long to give up a second serve, a woman’s scream could be heard above the moans.

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