When Canada played Japan in Davis Cup in Vancouver Mar 6 to 8 the expectation was that Canada should win but that the individual matches would be interesteing. And it was!
Day 1 went according to form. Milos Raonic defeated Tatsuma Ito Handily, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to give Canada the lead. Then Japan tied things up when Kei Nishikori dispatched Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 7-6, 6-3.
It was on day 2 that the excitement started to build. On paper, the team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil looked good for a routine win. The wily veteran Nestor with so many doubles titles under his belt teamed with newest Canadian Grand Slam doubles winner, Pospisil. But Davis Cup ties and doubles matches don’t always go according to form, though the home team crowd can help players put forward their best play. Japan played the doubles team of Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama, neither of whom are ranked among the world’s top 200 doubles players. The Japanese duo put up a good fight and the rubber took more than three hours to complete. In the end the Canadians took the fifth set to end the 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory and leave the team needing just one win to secure a place in the quarterfinals of the world group.
Day 3 saw one of the most awaited match ups take to the courts, Milos Raonic # 6 in the world against Kei Nishikori who had recently risen to #4. Only the final result disappointed the Canadian fans. Milos took the first set 6-3, Kei took the second and third sets, 6-3 and 6-4 respectively, Milos sent the match to a fifth set by taking the fourth 6-2. Kei drew first blood in the 5th set with a break against the dominant server to go ahead 2-1. Then Milos broke back in the sixth game to tie the set at 3 all and then go ahead 4-3 on serve. Nishikori was able to break Milos again in the lengthy ninth game when Milos’ second serve caught the top of the net and took a wild jump wide of the court for a double fault. Milos’ was unable to recover and the final set went to Japan, 6-4.
Vasek Pospisil then took to the court and played some progressively impressive and dominant tennis to beat Go Soeda 7-5,6-3,6-4 and carry Team Canada to the win.The next Davis Cup tie will be held July 17 to 19 when Team Canada will travel to Belgium to play for a spot in the semi-finals. Canada beat Belgium the last time the two countries met in Davis Cup, which was 102 years ago!
Photo of Vasek Pospisil and Daniel Nestor courtesy Peter Figura.