Britain booked a Davis Cup quarter-final matchup against France in odd fashion Sunday after the decisive final singles match ended when Canada's Denis Shapovalov hit the umpire with a ball.
The 17-year-old Israeli-born Canadian was defaulted after hitting a ball into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, handing Britain’s Kyle Edmund a 6-3, 6-4, 2-1 triumph that gave Britain a 3-2 victory in the first-round tie at Ottawa.
“It was a strange way to finish,” Edmund said. “I’ve never been part of something like that.”
Britain advanced to a quarter-final matchup April 7-9 against France with that winner facing either Spain or Serbia in a September semi-final.
Gabas suffered bruising and swelling around his left eye and was taken to a nearby hospital.
Shapovalov apologized to Gabas in the referee’s office while he was being treated, and was contrite in a press conference.
“I would like to begin with apologizing to that umpire, the referee and to all ITF officials. It was unacceptable behavior from me,” said Shapovalov, who was frustrated at losing a point, took a ball from his pocket and hit it wildly to send it flying into Gabas’s face.
“I feel incredibly ashamed and embarrassed, for letting my team down and my country down. That’s the last time I’m going to do anything like that. I’m going to learn from it.”
Vasek Pospisil had blasted 25 aces in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Dan Evans after three hours and 23 minutes earlier to draw Canada level at 2-2, setting the stage for the final drama.
Pospisil took to Twitter to defend his young teammate.
“No one is nicer or carries themselves better for a 17 y/o than Shapovalov,” Pospisil tweeted. “Everyone can see that today was an accident. Can happen to anyone.”
British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith was sympathetic as well.
“It’s a shame that it has happened that way and I feel for the young lad because he’s a great talent and he has learned a harsh lesson today,” Smith said.
“I thought Kyle, from what we saw Friday to the way he came out today, he was absolutely fantastic.”
World number one Andy Murray was absent for Britain but injured fourth-ranked Canadian Milos Raonic was also missing.
In the first reverse singles, Pospisil smacked a forehand winner to grab a 6-4 edge in the final tie-breaker. Evans answered with his seventh ace but Pospisil took the final point to keep Canada’s hopes alive.
It was a busy weekend for Pospisil, who teamed with Daniel Nestor in a Saturday doubles loss to Britain’s Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray.
He had beaten Edmund in three sets on Friday, when Shapovalov fell to Evans in the opening match of the tie. DM
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