On the strength of passionate cheering, Finland defeated the defending champions Canada 2-1 in the Davis Cup final eight, which got underway in Malaga on Tuesday.
Canada was eliminated from the men’s tennis World Cup as Finland advanced to the semi-finals for the first time, despite their hopes of carrying over from their victory in the Billie Jean King Cup earlier in November.
Milos Raonic secured a decisive 6-3, 7-5 victory over Patrick Kaukovalta in the initial singles match, showcasing a dominant performance with 18 aces. Finland’s Otto Virtanen later maintained their chances, defeating Gabriel Diallo 6-4, 7-5.
In the crucial doubles, Virtanen and Harri Heliovaara clinched a 7-5, 6-3 win against Alexis Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil, thrilling the Finnish supporters in Costa del Sol.
Notably, top players Felix Auger-Aliassime for Canada and Emil Ruusuvuori for Finland were absent due to injuries. Raonic’s performance was particularly noteworthy as he made his Davis Cup return after a hiatus since 2018.
“We played really great doubles today … we played really great together,” said Virtanen. “Why stop here, we have even more party on Friday,” added Heliovaara.
The Canadian player broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set, displaying confidence and control throughout the match. His ability to navigate the game with precision and secure crucial points on serve showcased the potency of his game, solidifying Canada’s position in the tie despite the absence of key players.
“I have definitely never played against anyone with that kind of serve,” said Kaukovalta.
“I had no read for it at any point of the match.” However, Virtanen gave Finland’s supporters much to celebrate as he was a major factor in Finland’s advancement to the Davis Cup finals.
“In front of these fans it just makes me play better every time,” said Virtanen,
In the second set, they broke once more for a 5-3 lead and closed it out with an ace from Virtanen to seal the victory. Finland’s first semi-final matchup is against Australia or the Czech Republic on Friday. The ATP Finals champion Novak Djokovic and runner-up Jannik Sinner will play on Thursday when Serbia plays the United Kingdom and Italy plays the Netherlands.