The biggest fan of Carlos Alcaraz has flocked to see the best new player in the world on his return to Spain.
Instead, they witnessed Felix Auger-Aliassime defeat their new idol before staying on the hard court to score a second victory in the doubles and help Canada clinch a shock 2-1 win over Spain in the Davis Cup group stage on Friday.
Alcaraz lost 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2 to the superb Auger-Alessem, who endured the partisan crowd and hoped the match in Valencia en route after the 19-year-old Spaniard dug deep to achieve the first. Tie-breaking group.
“Felix is a monster. Physically and mentally, Felix is one of the best players in the world,” Alcaraz said after his first match since winning the US Open last week to become the youngest player to rise to the top of the ATP rankings.
“I didn’t come in very good physical shape,” he added. “It was a very difficult day, but I have to congratulate him because he played an incredible match.”
Watch | Auger-Aliassime disturbs Alcaraz in Spain:
When the wing was roaring for Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime responded coldly by surgically placing shot after shot exactly where he wanted it. He controlled his serve with 16 aces and eventually broke Alcaraz in the second set and twice in the third.
“He’s the world No. 1 and he is very credited with that, but today I think I was a little better in the third,” said 13th seed Auger-Aliassime. “I wouldn’t let my team down with my fighting spirit.”
Watch | Canada beat Spain in the Davis Cup double:
Roberto Bautista gave Spain the first point after fighting again for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Vasque Pospisil.
With no time to recover, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil showed no sign of tired as they came back from behind to defeat Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martinez 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the interval.
The next Canada will play Serbia on Saturday, while Spain will face South Korea on Sunday to determine which of them will qualify for the quarter-finals in November in the southern Spanish city of Malaga.
Spain beat Serbia 3-0 on Wednesday while Alcaraz was resting after returning from New York as he won his first Grand Slam title on Sunday after an grueling streak that included three straight five-set wins.
After the match, he focused not on the loss, but on the joy he got from coming home.
“I wanted to come back to Spain, I mean to share this moment to be #1 and be the US Open champion with all my people,” Alcaraz said.
After Spanish fans had to stay up practically all night to watch his US Open matches due to the time difference, it was the first opportunity many of his supporters had to watch him play at home since May when he won the Madrid Open. Alcaraz beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the capital, in what many considered Nadal’s transfer of the torch to his Spanish successor.
Watch | Bautista Agut drops Pospisil:
Red and yellow flags were draped on the balustrade in the pavilion, including one named after Alcaraz’s home region, Murcia, drawn in large black letters. Valencia is located on the Mediterranean coast, about two and a half hours north of El Palmar, the birthplace of Alcaraz, and has a population of 24,000.
Alcaraz had only one previous encounter with Auger-Alessem, in the 2021 US Open quarter-final when the Spaniard was forced to retire due to injury.
While Alcaraz arrived after two weeks of tiredness in the United States, Auger-Aliassime played singles and doubles on Tuesday to help Canada beat South Korea in their Davis Cup opener.
Unable to touch Auger-Aliassime’s serve, Alcaraz summoned more cheers from the stands, which included his parents. He pumped his fist towards captain Sergi Brugueira and personal trainer Juan Carlos Ferrero after his hard-earned points.
But Auger-Aliassime did not lose the lead. Canada captain Frank Dansevich jumped from his court-side seat to cheer when Auger-Aliassime finally broke Alcaraz late in the second set. The Canadian poured it on him.
Also on Friday, the Netherlands advanced after beating its British counterpart Andy Murray 2-1 in Glasgow. The result also meant that the United States had advanced from Group D.
Germany and Australia advanced from Group C after Germany beat Belgium 2-1, while Italy defeated Argentina 2-1 in Bologna in Group A.