VANCOUVER, CANADA: A shocking upset is brewing in the first round of the 2013 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Upstart Canada, ranked 12th among the 16 teams in the World Group, is on the verge of ousting top seed Spain after wins by Milos Raonic and Frank Dancevic in opening day singles rubbers on Friday.
Raonic gave Canada the early lead with a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Albert Ramos, who was making his Davis Cup debut in the absence of Spanish stars Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro. The powerful Canadian, ranked 15th in the world, churned out 26 aces and never faced a break point as he improved his Davis Cup singles record to 7-3.
“I did a lot of things better and better throughout the match and am happy to start off with a win and get the crowd excited,” Raonic said following the victory before 6,400 Canadian flag-waving fans. “I played quite well but I know there is a lot of space for improvement as well. The home crowd was everything I expected and more. It was a young crowd, fun crowd, loud crowd, supportive crowd and great crowd.”
That partisan crowd reached a frenzied pitch in the second rubber of the day when Dancevic, ranked 166th in the world, bounced Spain’s No.1 player for the weekend and world number 34 Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Dancevic was aggressive from the outset and recorded 42 winners in the victory.
“This is definitely up there as one of the greatest moments of my career,” Dancevic said.
“I went out there today expecting to play well, but I didn’t expect to play the way I did. I really felt like I was flawless from the first point to the last. I’m really happy about the way it turned out. I know when I’m in the zone I can play really well, but to be consistently in the zone, I think this was one of the best matches of my career.”
With the victory, Dancevic improved his Davis Cup singles record to 12-14 while Granollers saw his record fall to 1-1.
Canada is now in a position to complete the upset on Saturday, although that will be a tall order as Spain sends Granollers back into action along with Marc Lopez. The world’s third- ranked doubles pair faces a must-win situation going up against Canadian veteran Daniel Nestor and partner Vasek Pospisil .
For Canada, all the pressure in this tie now rests squarely on the Spanish side. While thrilled with the opening day results, Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau knows his team hasn’t won anything yet.
“Spain is No.1 in the world, first seed and they have a great team and I don’t care what people say about their top players not being here,” he said. “I think Spain could field three Davis Cup teams. It’s certainly enjoyable what we did today, but that last point is going to be tough. We accomplished what we wanted, but it’s three points to win. Frank was hugely inspired. Davis Cup can pin you down if you don’t rise up, but if you do rise up it can produce some of the best tennis a player can play. And I think today did that for Frank.”
While Laurendeau sleeps on a 2-0 lead, his counterpart may have nightmares after the first day of competition. Spanish captain Alex Corretja warned prior to the weekend that facing the Canadians on Canadian soil was going to be a challenge. Now he has to find a way to inspire his team to mount a stunning comeback.
“We knew it could be very difficult especially with Milos, and Dancevic played amazing tennis. It was beautiful tennis, unfortunately it was painful for us,” Corretja said. “Going (down) 2-0 in the first day, we know it may be a miracle if we want to win this tie. I’m not looking forward to Sunday. I’m just worried about the doubles. If we are able to go 2-1, then we will need to wait until Sunday to see if we are able to do something that looks almost impossible right now. But this is sport and you never know what could happen.”
Friday’s results put Canada on the verge of making history by recording its first ever World Group stage victory. Spain has won five Davis Cup titles since 2000 and reached the final of last year’s competition before falling to the Czech Republic.
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