EDMONTON — Denis Shapovalov made the most of an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing for his country this weekend at the Davis Cup.
The 18-year-old put Canada through to the World Group for 2018 after a dominating 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory over Ramkumar Ramanathan of India in its best-of-five Davis Cup tie on Sunday.
The Canadians won the tie 3-2 on the indoor hard court at Northlands Coliseum.
"Clinching for my country is huge," Shapovalov said. "I grew up wanting to play on the team and to help my country win this week is a huge honour. It's honestly the best feeling.
"I'll be back for many years to come if I am invited to play. It's such a fun event, and I love doing it."
In the final rubber, India's Yuki Bhambri beat Brayden Schnur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, although that match didn't impact the final result.
Shapovalov, ranked 51st in the world, is in the midst of a tremendous run that has seen him go 18-3 since Wimbledon, including wins over Rafael Nadal at the Rogers Cup and eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the recent U.S. Open.
Shapovalov also recorded a win over Bhambri in the second Davis Cup singles match on Friday.
"This is right up there with all the rest of the things that have happened of late," Shapovalov said. "I'm improving every day, and I still think I need to improve a lot of things. But I am playing with a lot of confidence and playing some great tennis. I felt so good on the court today."
It was a much better Davis Cup experience than the last one for Shapovalov, who in some ways caused the necessity of the tie with India.
The Richmond Hill, Ont., native slapped a loose ball in frustration and broke a bone in the eye socket of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas during the deciding match of the series against Britain in February in Ottawa, getting banished as Canada lost 3-2.
Canada's other victory in Edmonton came in doubles play on Saturday when Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil defeated Rohan Bopanna and Purav Raja 3-1.
Not much separated the two countries coming into the tie, as Canada was ranked 16th to India's 18th.
Canada has now advanced into the World Group for a seventh consecutive year, and has won seven of its last eight home ties.
Canada's highest-ever ranking in Davis Cup play was sixth in February 2014.