Felix Auger-Aliassime may have dashed Alex de Minaur's Davis Cup ambitions for another year - but Canada's soaring world team champion believes the Australian can still achieve his dream.
Auger-Aliassime, shaping up to reach the heights for so long predicted of him, proved the shining star of the Cup finals week in Malaga, saving his best for last as he outplayed the Sydneysider who possesses such an impressive resume in the competition.
The victory ensured a 2-0 win for Canada, the country's first-ever Davis Cup triumph, leaving de Minaur's crestfallen countenance the enduring image of Australia's anti-climactic final after his week of heroics had been largely responsible for their battle march to the final.
Yet Auger-Aliassime, now a world champion at 22, had an encouraging message for his long-time opponent from junior days, when asked if he felt de Minaur could one day spearhead Australia to a title they haven't held for 19 years.
"For sure, for sure," said Auger-Aliassime.
"Look, he's led this team to the finals now. He's always played well in team events.
"He's one of the toughest guys to get past through on the court. He's really fast. Yeah, he's a tough competitor, even more in these competitions. I'm sure he will try to lead his team to the victory."
Auger-Aliassime admitted his sense of delight at sealing Canada's first-ever Davis Cup triumph was tinged with relief at finally disposing of the challenge of the 23-year-old who never stopped running or believing before he finally succumbed to his first defeat in seven Davis Cup singles rubbers this year.
"Even at the end, Alex made it tough for me. In the second set, I was up a break but getting a lot of break points, getting chances even in the last game," said the Canadian.
The problem for the de Minaur-led Australia, though, is that the Cup appears to be getting ever more competitive in its shorter, knock-out tournament format.
"There are so many tough teams. We played Italy, who are going to have a really tough team in the future like many others, and hopefully we're there every year and are contenders to win it," said Auger-Aliassime.
Indeed, with Denis Shapovalov firing too, Canada can expect to be the competition's pre-eminent force in forthcoming years, with Auger-Aliassime now really showing why he's such a special talent following three tournament wins in succession last month.
"These guys are not kids any more. They've been crushing it," said the team's elder statesman Vasek Pospisil.
But Auger-Aliassime was the one who looks best equipped to go on to grand slam glory, in shape to improve on his performance at last year's Australian Open when he made the quarter-finals.