Diallo outlasts Kwon as Canada takes 1-0 lead over South Korea in Davis Cup qualifiers in Montreal

Montreal player Gabriel Diallo opened Canada’s match in the Davis Cup tennis qualifiers by defeating South Korea in straight sets, defeating Kwon Sun-woo 6-4, 6-4 on Friday.

The 22-year-old Diallo won the match in one hour and 30 minutes in front of a near-full hometown crowd inside IGA Arena to give No. 2 seed Canada a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five event.

Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, British Columbia, was scheduled to meet Hong Seung Chan of South Korea in the second singles match on Friday night.

The Canadian Tennis Association said fewer than 100 tickets remained for the 2,082-seat venue on Friday, while tickets were sold out on Saturday.

The six-foot-eight, 198-pound Diallo — who is ranked 132nd on the ATP Tour — hit 11 aces to Kuhn’s two and advanced 11 winners to five.

Diallo committed 47 unforced errors, while Kwon committed 41 errors in a match full of errors.

Kwon, despite falling to No. 700 due to injuries, was a tough competitor as a player who reached No. 52 in November 2021. He previously beat Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (5), 6-3, during the Davis Championship. Play the cup in 2022.

The South Korean player advanced 3-2 in the first set by breaking Diallo’s serve after both players held serve comfortably at the beginning of the match.

Diallo broke right back as Kwon double faulted before his volley hit the net on break point.

After holding serve, Diallo came back from 40-0 down to have two break points, but Kwon blocked him to level the score at 4-4. But Diallo won the next two matches.

The second set was played in a similar manner.

It was tied at 3-3 in the second set, and Kwon took a break point thanks to a double fault from Diallo on break point.

Diallo broke right back again, converting his fourth break chance when Kwon’s return hit the net to end a long rally. He then held serve and Kwon broke again to take the set.

Marital confrontation

Action continues Saturday with Pospisil and Alexis Galarneau of Laval, Que., teaming up in a doubles match against Nam Ji Sung and Song Min Kyu. Diallo will then meet Hong while Pospisil faces Kwon in two singles rubbers, although lineups are subject to change.

This is the first time Montreal has hosted a Davis Cup match since Canada beat South Africa 4-1 in September 2012.

Former world No. 3s Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Liam Draxel of Newmarket, Ont., complete the Canadian team with the absence of top players Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Canada won its only previous meeting against South Korea during the 2022 tournament in Valencia, Spain, en route to its first Davis Cup title. Canada lost to Finland in the quarterfinals last year.

The winning country qualifies for the group stage of the Davis Cup finals next September. The finals will be held next November in Malaga, Spain.

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