Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov skip Davis Cup

-Ikenna Okafor

When Russia was dropped from the Davis Cup finals following its invasion of Ukraine, the International Tennis Federation checked the rankings and determined that Canada was next in line with two exciting players, Montrealer Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., ranked in the top 20 in the ATP Tour rankings.

But neither player will be in Spain when the group stage of the competition begins.

The ITF bills the Davis Cup as the World Cup of tennis, but for many players, including Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov, it’s simply another stop on a gruelling calendar.In the past, both players have waved the flag and talked about the pride they feel in representing their country. But as players protect their rankings and juggle the fine line between punishing their bodies and getting the rest they need, patriotism often takes a back seat to personal goals.
That’s the case for Auger-Aliassime this year. The group stage closely follows the conclusion of the U.S. Open and is the week before the Laver Cup, which features Auger-Aliassime as the star of Team Rest of the World, which faces Team Europe at the O2 arena in London. This is a phoney exhibition event that is popular because it offers guaranteed appearance money and a chance to hang with Roger Federer.

Auger-Aliassime won’t be the only big name at the Laver Cup. Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray of Britain and Americans Jack Sock and Taylor Fritz will also play in it, although the two U.S. players have also committed to playing Davis Cup. Enigmatic Australian Nick Kyrgios is skipping both the Davis Cup and the Laver Cup.

The absence of Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov from the Davis Cup is disappointing because Canada would be competitive if they were in the lineup.

In 2019, when the ITF introduced a format that brought together the top teams in one place for a week of competition, Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov represented Canada and they went to the final before losing to host Spain.

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