VANCOUVER, CANADA: Top-ranked Spain has won five Davis Cup by BNP Paribas titles in the past twelve years. Twlefth-ranked Canada has never won a tie in the World Group stage.
On paper, this opening round contest has the makings of a mismatch.However, based on the rosters submitted by the two federations, this tie could very well provide plenty of drama.
Spain is without the star power of Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro – all ranked in the world top 11. Instead, world number 34 Marcel Granollers has been installed as the Spaniards' top singles player this weekend while Canada counters with world number 15 Milos Raonic. And with a boisterous home crowd behind them and playing on fast hard-court surface, Canada may never have a better chance to pull off an upset.
“It’s a great opportunity to be playing in Canada. If this were in Spain we know that it would be a much more challenging,” Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau says. “This will undoubtedly be very difficult, but we feel good about playing any country here at home. We have a great crowd here, we have guys who are healthy and are keen to be playing. Our objective as a group is to make it past the first round and we intend to do that with the group we have here.”
Canada’s top player Raonic will open Friday’s tie against world number 51 Albert Ramos hoping to use his big serve to give Canada an early boost. That match will be followed by Granollers taking on Canada’s Frank Dancevic who is currently 166th in the ATP rankings.
Dancevic is the third highest ranked Canadian singles player behind Raonic and Vasek Pospisil (131st), but was selected to play singles ahead of Pospisil who has recently recovered from mononucleosis which forced him to withdraw from this month’s Australian Open qualifying.
Pospisil will play doubles, however, partnering Canadian veteran Daniel Nestor. They will face the powerful Spanish duo of Granollers and Marc Lopez, the third ranked doubles team in the world, on Saturday.
“We have some better ranked players that are not here, but we believe that these guys that are here are capable of winning the tie, too,” Spanish captain Alex Corretja says. “We know that it’s going to be very difficult. Canada is probably one of the worst opponents you can face in the first round - especially away.
"It’s going to be one of the toughest rounds we’ve had to face in the last few years. On these courts, it’s going to be very, very difficult to beat Milos. He’s going to be almost unbeatable here. We’re going to have to play amazing tennis to beat him. Basically we have to do our job, our work as best as we can.”
Sunday’s reverse singles will have Raonic taking on Granollers while Dancevic battles Ramos.
These countries have only met once in Davis Cup competition. Spain defeated Canada 4-1 on clay in Murcia, Spain in the opening round in 1991. Twenty-two years later, Canada is hoping to even the score.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Milos Raonic (CAN) v Albert Ramos (ESP)
R2: Frank Dancevic (CAN) v Marcel Granollers (ESP)
R3: Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil (CAN) v Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP)
R4: Milos Raonic (CAN) v Marcel Granollers (ESP)
R5: Frank Dancevic (CAN) v Albert Ramos (ESP)
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Milos Raonic (CAN) - 31/01/2013
Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau - 31/01/2013
Spanish captain Alex Corretja - 31/01/2013