The Canada-Japan Davis Cup draw took place on Thursday afternoon at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, and it is building up as expected.
Tennis Canada announced a men’s team last month with no surprises, and team captain Martin Laurendeau is sticking to the script when the tie gets underway on Friday.
When Tatsuma Ito’s name was pulled from the cup, by default the Japanese player became the first match on Friday’s card, taking on Canada’s top singles player and world number six Milos Raonic (5 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One).
Davis Cup format sees each country’s no. 1 singles player against the opposition’s no. 2 on the first day of matches. With Ito’s name drawn, his higher seeded teammate and world no. 4 Kei Nishikori will play in the day’s second contest against Vancouver’s own Vasek Pospisil.
On Saturday, the doubles teams will play the sole scheduled match. If either team is up 2-0 after the first two singles matches, the leading side will have a chance to close out the best-of-five series. Canada will put up Daniel Nestor and Pospisil against Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama in doubles.
As was expected, the highly anticipated Raonic versus Nishikori match-up will take place on Sunday, provided the tie isn’t already settled. Should one side wrap things up on Saturday, teams usually still put on a show on the final day, although who is playing often remains a last minute decision. Should Canada-Japan go the distance, Pospisil is likely to play the final match against Ito, although Laurendeau also has Frank Dancevic as an option.
Following the draw Raonic was asked what he gets out of playing in this tournament since he has a lucrative individual career as a top global star. The Thornhill, Ontario native didn’t hesitate to show his true colours in his response, saying “I’m here because I want to be here, I don’t have anyone telling me I need to be here. I have a desire to be here. I want to succeed in this event and I want to succeed representing Canada.”
Nestor, who is entering his 23rd year in the Davis Cup said one of the reasons he continues to play tennis at 42 is for a chance to win the tournament with Canada, which would be a first for the nation. In 2013 the Canadians reached the semifinals.
The winner of Canada-Japan would go to the quarterfinals to play the winner of Belgium-Switzerland.
Matches on Saturday and Sunday get underway at 4 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One. Fans wishing to travel to the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre can purchase tickets online.