Many tennis fans are surprised to see Finland in the Davis Cup Semi-Finals, but they brought the crowd and the belief and beat Canada.
Finland in the Davis Cup Semi-Finals
Canada did not play Auger-Aliassime, but put in Milos Raonic instead. Raonic did his job against #715-ranked Kaukovalta and won 6-3 7-5 (still a good match from the Fin!).
For the second rubber, Finland had 22-year-old Otto Virtanen against Canada’s Gabriel Diallo. Diallo turned pro this year, is over 2 meters tall, and is also 22 years old. On an indoors court, the ace count should be high!
But Virtanen managed to break twice in the match and that was enough. 6-4 7-5 and the match would be settled in a doubles match.
For doubles, Virtanen teamed up with strong doubles player, Harry Heliovaara and they quickly took the initiative against Alexis Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil. Backed by something similar to a home crowd (the largest Finnish population outside Finland and Sweden live in Fuengirola in the Malaga region), the Finns got it done 7-5 6-3 and continue their epic run in the Davis Cup.
It suits the format of the Davis Cup to have some surprising results. It shows that the spirit still lives in the competition and Finland showed that audience support is crucial.
If you want to know more about the Davis Cup, check out our Davis Cup page.
Playing at home away from home
Let’s put some Finnish quotes from the official Davis Cup site to describe the atmosphere in Malaga.
“This is why we play tennis”, an emotional Heliovaara declared afterwards. “Today was definitely one of the highest days of my career in terms of emotions. We knew beforehand there was going to be a big Finnish supporter group, but you never know how good it’s going to feel until you actually experience that on court. The emotions are something that I can cherish for the rest of my life.”Harry Heliovaara
“We are not in Finland but we feel like we are in Finland”, added Virtanen. “I love the pressure of playing in front of these fans, it just makes me play better every time, all the support I get. It means everything to play for my country. Today was amazing.”Otto Virtanen
Can Finland win the Davis Cup? Yes, this shows that anything is possible, even without their top player. However, it will be tougher against Australia or Czechia.