On paper it has to be one of the closest Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals. Canada, led by No. 16 Milos Raonic, will play an Italian team that boasts two extremely capable singles players in world No. 19 Andreas Seppi and No. 36 Fabio Fognini.
The tie, which takes place at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena in Vancouver, could come down to the doubles rubber and if Raonic feels up to it, he could form a testing partnership with one of the best doubles players of all time – Daniel Nestor.
Raonic has shown in his last three Davis Cup outings – two of which were also played at the Thunderbird Arena in Vancouver – that he is a force to be reckoned with on Canadian hard courts.
He has won his last five singles rubbers, with his most recent defeat coming against Amir Weintraub on Israeli soil at the ironically named Canada Stadium.
“Playing in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena last time showed that the fans in Vancouver are really strong and I'm happy to be back in that atmosphere,” said Raonic. “I've had great results on this court so we're looking forward to success against Italy and helping us continue this great Davis Cup run.”
In fact, the surface suits Raonic’s game so much that Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau explained that he specifically asked for it to be laid to favour the big-serving game of his star player.
Despite home advantage and the support of the Canadian crowd, Raonic knows that his team will have its work cut out if it is to advance to a first World Group semifinal.
He said: “It’s going to be exciting to play a strong Italian team in Vancouver. They're going to be bringing a very strong team with them this year with [Andreas] Seppi in good form and Fabio [Fognini] who is capable of some good wins.”
Should his team win on home soil on 5-7 April, Raonic’s Canada will face a semifinal against either USA or Serbia, both of which will make for mouthwatering viewing.
Follow all of the action on DavisCup.com.