World number six Felix Auger-Aliassime kept Canada’s hopes of a maiden Davis Cup title alive when he swept past Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets in the semi-final against Italy on Saturday.

Auger-Aliassime triumphed 6-3, 6-4 after Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego had earlier defeated Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 in the opening rubber.

The 22-year-old Canadian, the highest ranked player in Malaga this week, carved out two breaks of serve and fired 12 aces past his 23rd-ranked rival.

The tie will be settled by the doubles for which both teams make last-minute changes.

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For Italy, Matteo Berrettini replaced Simone Bolelli and will play alongside Fabio Fognini while Auger-Aliassime was chosen ahead of the out-of-form Shapovalov to partner Vasek Pospisil.

In Sunday’s final, the eventual winners will face 28-times champions Australia who reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003 on Friday with a 2-1 win over last year’s runners-up Croatia.

Italy have reached the Davis final seven times, winning the trophy in 1976.

Canada have never triumphed in the team event, losing their only previous final in 2019 to Spain.

World number 45 Sonego sealed victory in 3hr 14min after back-to-back double faults from 18th-ranked Shapovalov, who had won their only previous meeting in Rome earlier this year.

Shapovalov paid dearly for only converting one of 13 break points while Sonego could have wrapped up the clash in straight sets after being 5/2 ahead in the second set tiebreak.

“It was really tough to remain focussed because I lost the tiebreak in second set. But I was really positive and my captain (Filippo Volandri) helped me a lot to do my best to stay in the match. I enjoyed the match in the last moment,” said Sonego.

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By Dipak

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