I had to step away from my latest screenplay ‘Stanley’ this month to pay attention to yet another milestone for Canadian tennis. If I didn’t finish my screenplay as scheduled by the end of the month, I could easily blame the Canadian Davis Cup Team because I was more engrossed in them than my writing – at least for a weekend. Looking at the Davis Cup website, it is a bit jarring to see the Canadian flag as one of 4 countries still standing in the Davis Cup. What a moment in the history of Canadian tennis.
In a rush to get home to watch the first match on that Friday, I missed the first two sets. When I saw that Vasek Pospisil won the first two sets, I was already thinking that Canada had won the tie with Italy. Then I saw that match slip away. The same thing happened in the doubles the next day. Canada was up 2 sets to none and again I thought that Canada had won the tie. The next 2 sets slipped away. I have to admit I was feeling a bit let down by Canada’s doubles legend Daniel Nestor. What followed in the 5th set was perhaps the greatest moment in Davis Cup history for Canada.
It ended 15-13 in the fifth and easily became the most exciting, nail biting, hair pulling finish to a match involving Canadians ever. For both Pospisil and Nestor to grind out that victory was the key to the entire weekend – much like Frank Dancevic’s win in the earlier tie against Spain. The ace in the hole the past few ties has been Milos Raonic. Had he not been ‘on’, Canada could very well not be in the position it is in right now. He deserves much of the credit for being the reliable workhorse the past few ties, but it is the career defining moments of Dancevic and Nestor/Pospisil that will remain in my mind for a long, long time.
It must be said that Canada has had a lot of good breaks come their way the last few ties. Not having to go to South Africa last September and instead hosting in Toronto was a great break. Playing Spain’s third string at home on hard courts was another break. And playing Italy at home on hard courts was yet another break. The breaks end there however. In the semifinals, Canada plays Serbia on clay in Serbia. It’s a very tough matchup and most would say ‘Canada you’ve done well to get this far’. There are a few factors that could sway in Canada’s favour.
The tie is less than a week after the US Open. If Djokovic plays a Monday final in New York, he’d have to jet to Serbia to be ready by Friday. He could also not elect to play. Raonic has shown to be competitive on clay. Nestor is a surprisingly good clay court player (he’s won the French Open 4 times). Jesse Levine is also a good clay courter should he be selected. Some of the Canadian team is of Yugoslavian heritage, so it would be a homecoming of sorts. Of course, Serbia is the overwhelming favourite. If Canada wins, it would be a huge upset.
In related team news, Canada is back in the World Group II in Federation Cup play for women. Unlike the men’s Davis Cup which has a 16 team World Group, Fed Cup has an 8 team World Group followed by an 8 team World Group II. Canada is now back in the top 16 nations after defeating Ukraine in Kiev. I’m really impressed with this team that is minus Aleksandra Wozniak and the now retired Rebecca Marino. Wimbledon junior champion Eugenie Bouchard looks great but the biggest kudos go to Sharon Fichman who has been the workhorse, winning in singles and doubles. Canada is now finished competing in 2013 and will try to advance into the top 8 teams in 2014.
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