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Canada's gift to U.S. criticised by rival nations

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By Reuters
Canada's gift to U.S. criticised by rival nations
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Davis Cup Finals - Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain - November 19, 2019 Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates with teammates after winning his group stage match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. REUTERS/Susana Vera   -   Copyright  SUSANA VERA(Reuters)

By Martyn Herman

MADRID (Reuters) – Canada’s decision to forfeit their doubles rubber in Tuesday’s Group F clash against the U.S. at the revamped Davis Cup Finals has come under fire from rival teams.

Victories in both singles rubbers had given Canada a 2-0 lead to seal a first ever Davis Cup win over their neighbours in 16 attempts and guarantee them top spot in the group.

They then opted to concede the doubles rubber, giving the U.S. a 6-0 6-0 victory.

“Three of the Canadian players were passed unfit to the play the doubles,” the organisers the ITF said at the time.

The U.S. face Italy later on Wednesday at La Caja Magica with the winner of the tie finishing runner-up.

With the two best runners-up in the six groups joining the group winners in the quarter-finals, the U.S. could benefit from the fact that were effectively handed two gift 6-0 sets, should they beat Italy and finish second behind Canada.

“I personally don’t like that. I mean, that shouldn’t be allowed, to be honest,” Serbia’s Novak Djokovic told reporters after his side’s 3-0 win over Japan in Group A on Wednesday.

“I understand that Canada is through already, they won both of their ties. Maybe some of the players like Felix (Auger-Aliassime), I think he’s injured, and they wanted to rest their players for the quarter-finals and onwards.

“But I just feel it’s not fair the U.S. gets 6-0 6-0. That 6-0 6-0 might make a big difference in the calculations for the second-best teams in the group. I think everyone should be obliged to come out and play, at least play.”

Britain’s Andy Murray agreed.

“I don’t think that’s good. I was saying I felt like one of the positive things to the way the group stages work is that all of the matches are live, there isn’t any dead rubbers.

“So where Canada may have felt that that was a dead rubber in theory for them because they were already through, that could have implications to all of the teams potentially that might finish in second place.

“Also they would have had two days off as well after that so I think they should have played the tie.”

The best second-placed nations will be decided first on matches won, then individual rubbers, then sets and then games.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)