Diallo, Pospisil give Canada 2-0 lead over South Korea in Davis Cup qualifier in Montreal

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Canada is in control after a perfect start to its Davis Cup qualifier against South Korea in Montreal.

Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, British Columbia, defeated Hong Seong-chan 6-4, 6-3 on Friday after Gabriel Diallo of Montreal opened with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kwon Soon- woo, giving second-ranked Canada a 6-4, 6-4 victory. Leading 2-0 over 18th-ranked South Korea in the best-of-five event.

Pospisil, 33, playing the 33rd Davis Cup tie of his career, improved to 32-25 all-time in tournament play.

Diallo, 22, won his match in 1.5 hours in front of 1,829 spectators inside the IGA stadium, including some of the local player’s family and friends.

Play continues Saturday with Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., playing doubles against Nam Ji-sung and Song Min-kyu.

Diallo will next meet Hong while Pospisil faces Kwon in two singles matches, although lineups are subject to change. Watch live coverage on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem, which continues Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

Tennis Canada has announced that tickets for Saturday are sold out.

Diallo said he cherishes the opportunity to perform in front of his home crowd.

“This is what I worked for,” he said. “For me, there’s no bigger moment than this, I’m from the city, from this neighborhood, I live seven minutes away and I grew up coming (to) train here. “

A tennis player shouts in celebration during a match.
Diallo celebrates his 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kwon in front of a home crowd on Friday. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

Although he fell to 700th due to injuries, Kwon was a tricky opponent. The former world number 52 had already surprised the best Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime during a Davis Cup match in 2022.

The six-foot-eight, 198-pound Diallo – who ranks 132nd on the ATP Tour – had 11 aces to Kwon’s two and led with 11 winners to five. Diallo made 47 unforced errors while Kwon made 41 in an error-filled match.

Both sets played out the same way.

Kwon scored a break midway through each set, but Diallo quickly broke back each time to gain momentum.

“The best time to take a break is right after you’re broken,” Diallo said. “It can be difficult to consolidate your break, so I know he can let his guard down a little after a break.

“I stayed calm when things weren’t going so well…I dragged him, dragged him, made him think, and I think I did a good job of staying there and not disappearing not.”

Pospisil and Hong met for the second time after the Canadian won in a third-set tiebreak in a 2022 Davis Cup match.

On this occasion, Pospisil dominated with 22 winners to Hong’s five to overcome his 40 unforced errors.

Hong took a 2-1 lead and held on to take a 4-2 lead before Pospisil won four straight games, winning the set on a double fault from Kwon.

After losing another break early in the second period, Pospisil won four straight games to take a 5-2 lead. Pospisil then held serve 5-3, winning with a volley to claim victory.

The match lasted 1:48, partly due to delays as Pospisil contested ball pressure on several occasions.

Montreal last hosted a Davis Cup match in September 2012, when Canada beat South Africa 4-1.

Former world No. 3 Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Liam Draxl of Newmarket, Ont., round out the Canadian team along with top players Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Auger-Aliassime of Montreal, absent.

Canada won its only previous meeting against South Korea in the 2022 round-robin tournament in Valencia, Spain, en route to its first Davis Cup title. Canada lost to Finland in the quarterfinals last year.

The winning country advances to the group stage of the Davis Cup final in September. The final will take place in November in Malaga, Spain.



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