The ball’s in our court

Milos Raonic at Wimbledon ©AELTC

Canada versus Spain in Davis Cup 
By Elliot Chan, Contributor

Since Milos Raonic was knocked out by Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian open, he has turned his attention back home in preparation for the Davis Cup. The Ontario native will team up with BC’s Vasek Pospisil, Niagara Falls’ Frank Dancevic, and Canadian tennis veteran Daniel Nestor to compete against the first seeded nation, Spain, at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC on February 1–3.

Though the Spanish team will be missing the prestigious Rafael Nadal due to injury, they are still a formidable group. Nicolas Almagro, the 11 seeded singles player, former doubles champions Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers, and 51 seeded Albert Ramos will be a handful for the Canadians.

“Spain is going to be a real challenge,” said Canadian team captain, Martin Laurendeau. “They are the top team in the world with incredible depth. They have 13 players in the top 100 alone so no matter what team they’re bringing, it will be stacked with talent.”

The winner of the three days will advance to the quarterfinals in April. Meanwhile the loser will fall into a survival bracket, where they will play a must-win tie in order to compete in the World Group in the next Davis Cup tournament in 2014.

The Canadians’ main cause for apprehension is Raonic’s health. He was showing signs of a foot ailment during his lost to Federer. But Laurendeau assured that it was nothing to be concerned about. “He’s fine, no worries about Milos,” he said.

It has been 22 years since Canada faced Spain. It was the only time the two nations had contended against each other in the competition. The result went in favour of the Europeans, who won the tie 4–1 in Murcia, Spain. Although the Spanish team had won 10 out of 14 ties in their homeland, traveling abroad has been a problem. They lost in the finals 2–3 last year against the Czech Republic team in Prague.

Canada, on the other hand, is entering the competition on a positive note. They defeated South Africa 4–1 in September to keep their position in the higher tier. The same quartet that secured their spot in the World Group last year is entering the same challenge this year. Should Canada upset Spain in the first round, they will have an opportunity to face Croatia or Italy in the quarterfinals.

Two singles matches are scheduled for Friday the first, a doubles match on Saturday, and finally a reverse singles on Sunday, where players swap opponents. Tickets are now being sold for both individual days and as a three-day package. There is also a 10% off special for students.