Tennis stories of 2019: How Vasek Pospisil became the star of the revamped Davis Cup

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Tennis stories of 2019: How Vasek Pospisil became the star of the revamped Davis Cup

All the talk at the outset of this year’s Davis Cup was how the new format would work. Front runners included Novak Djokovic’s Team Serbia and of course Spain, with a passionate newly re-crowned No. 1 Rafael Nadal playing in front of his home country.

But the story that quickly emerged after the first round was of resilient Vasek Pospisil, who powered through his matches and set The Magic Box ablaze in Madrid, Spain. When a match’s outcome was on the line, the 29-year-old Canadian came up with the clutch win every time, making history by getting their country to their first Davis Cup final.

“It’s hard to put into words. There’s nothing quite like the Davis Cup,” Pospisil told Sportsnet's Arash Madani, after beating Australia. Ranked 150th in singles, and having played a few Challenger events during the fall after returning to the game since back surgery earlier in the year, the Canadian had been viewed as a stand-in for the higher-ranked 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime and the former world No.

3 Milos Raonic. But with both Auger-Aliassime and Raonic sidelined due to injuries, Pospisil was thrust into the spotlight. The former world No. 25 defied expectations and thrived under the pressure. He grasped the win in almost all of his matches, and together with 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov, put on the performance of his life, equally brilliant in singles as well as doubles.

“Vasek’s just a legend for serving three bombs, three aces like it’s nobody’s business,” Shapovalov gushed to Madani after the win over Australia.

“I mean it’s unreal. I was at the net smiling, I didn’t have to do anything that game”. Team Canada had made the Top 18 teams competing in the final event, but no one expected the 14th ranked squad to be a contender.

However, with astonishing upsets over higher-ranked Italy, the USA, and Russia, Pospisil and Shapovalov managed to find a way almost every time. Pospisil thrilled Davis Cup crowds with his passionate fight, including coming back from a set point down, and displaying a powerful, consistent serve to clinch his wins.

Battling Spain in the final was probably too much to ask for in their fairytale rise, but their fight to the end will be remembered as one of the great tennis stories of 2019.

"They're going to be one of the teams that's going to be almost unbeatable in the next couple of years," Nadal praised Canada, according to Yahoo Canada.

"They have a very strong team in more ways and on all surfaces."

Team Canada’s appearance in the final will be a major boost for the Canadian who was integral to that accomplishment. Vasek Pospisil has been building back his tennis career since he was sidelined at the start of 2019.

His late-season push resulted in two back-to-back Challenger Tour titles in Las Vegas and Charlottesville, giving him the confidence boost to spur Canada to their breakthrough progress in Madrid. Thanks to the resurgence of Vasek Pospisil, Canada has automatically qualified for next year’s Davis Cup finals.

They also have a chance of hosting the event. As we saw in Madrid, Pospisil and Shapovalov demonstrated that they are very much part of the Canadian tennis revolution. At this point, it’s a good bet that we will see Pospisil continue his impressive momentum and crack the Top 100 again. Expect great things from him in 2020. He’s a man on a mission.