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Cashmere Wrap: Canada's Davis Cup Title Prominent on Day One of Toronto Main Draw Play

by Mike McIntyre

August 7, 2023

Presented by

Main draw action finally began at the National Bank Open and while were many great matches to catch around the grounds at Sobeys Stadium, there was also tons of action happening off court as well.

Fans in attendance today had a chance to catch a glimpse of the Davis Cup trophy from Canada’s 2022 championship run. To say that the trophy is a monster is an understatement as it makes every other trophy in professional sports seem miniature.

Fans could get up close and take a selfie or even ask the security guard to snap a pic, as my Match Point Canada co-host Ben Lewis and I did this morning. The entire championship squad was honoured tonight on Centre Court in a ceremony just before Canadian trailblazer Milos Raonic plays his opening-round match vs Frances Tiafoe.

Photo : Mike McIntyre

Elsewhere, young fans from the Doug Philpott Tennis Program were treated to a special meet and greet with none other than Felix Auger-Aliassime. Felix talked about the importance of having fun as a kid but also taking the time to work hard, just as he learned from his father growing up.

“Sometimes you think, ok now I’m going to go and have fun,” Felix shared with the kids. “But when it’s time to work on school or a sport or anything that you’re passionate about, the most important thing to me is to try to focus on the task at hand and do it in the best way. The sentence that I remember is, if something is worth doing then do it well.”

Photo : Tyler Anderson

Following the inspirational chat, Felix stuck around and signed autographs and took pictures with every single child in attendance. The soon-to-be 23-year-old (it’s his birthday tomorrow) has always been generous with his time and is a great role model for the up-and-coming generation of tennis players.

Follow Monday's Results from the Round One in Toronto

The first match on Centre Court featured Canadian wild card Alexis Galarneau against World No. 22 Francisco Cerundolo. Despite the wide ranking gap between them (Galarneau is currently No. 192), it was a back-and-forth affair that saw several swings of momentum between the two.

Galarneau lost the opening set before finding more depth on his shots and range with his up-the-line backhand in particular. The 24-year-old from Laval even found himself up 3-0 in the final set before his error count begun to creep up. Cerundolo found his range and steadied himself for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win. Nevertheless, it was an excellent learning experience for Galarneau who proved he has the game to hang with some of the best on the ATP.

Asked after the match about what confidence it would give him after having troubled a Top 30 player so much, Galarneau seemed positive when he replied, “I knew I had the level, but to bring it again on Centre Court in front of the Canadian crowd, I think I can be proud of that.”

Photo : Tyler Anderson

One Canadian player on-site today despite not being in the draw is Denis Shapovalov, who was honoured later in the evening as part of the celebration for the 2022 winning Davis Cup team.

Shapovalov is mending a knee injury that has been troubling him for some time but took a moment today to interact with members of the National Bank Open ball crew. The unsuspecting ball kids thought they were being filmed for a Tennis Canada promotional video when a ninja-like Shapovalov snuck in behind them for a big surprise. It was quite the thrill for the crew who then had the chance to ask Shapo some questions and chat about their favourite moments on court in their important roles.

Photo : Peter Power

Then to kick off the evening session, Shapovalov was joined by fellow Davis Cup champions Felix Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil, Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau along with Team Captain Frank Dancevic to receive their championship rings.

A nice touch was that Tennis Canada also invited previous members of the Davis Cup squad including the likes of Peter Polansky, Brayden Schnur, Daniel Nestor and even 73-year-old Dale Power, who was the No. 1 Canadian for a ten-year period and is facing a very challenging fight at the moment against cancer. We wish Dale all the very best in his battle.