February 1, 2014, Tokyo (ISN) – The Canadian Davis Cup team trails Japan 2-1 after the second day of play in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie taking place on indoor hard court at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.
In what could be considered a fairly large upset, the Japanese team of Kei Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama defeated Dancevic and world No. 16 in doubles Daniel Nestor 6-3, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 to put Canada on the brink of elimination.
Both teams made player substitutions prior to the match as Dancevic went in for Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) who is still recovering from a back injury and Nishikori went in for Yuichi Sugita on the Japanese side.
Having not played together for more than three years, Dancevic and Nestor came out disjointed and the Japanese duo took advantage breaking both of the Canadians’ serves one time each to take the first set fairly easily. The Canadian pair began to gel more in the second set and got out to an early lead but with Nestor serving for the set, Japan broke back to eventually force the tiebreak where they capitalized on their chances to give themselves a commanding two-set lead.
The third set started out much the same way with Japan taking control and getting a break early. But Nestor and Dancevic fought back right away to get back on serve and finally took advantage of their numerous chances by breaking for a second time at 5-4 to capture the third set.
But the Japanese team were not rattled and came back strong, breaking in the opening game and never really letting Canada back in again apart from two break point opportunities at 4-3 which they saved. The Canadian pair then saved two match points on Nestor’s serve but Uchiyama immediately went on to serve it out to take the match and put his country one win away from the World Group quarter-finals.
For Nestor, the loss was only his eighth in Davis Cup doubles play in his entire 22-year career representing Canada in the world’s largest international team competition. It was also the first loss for Dancevic and Nestor as a pair who entered the contest undefeated together with a 3-0 record.
“They were the better team from start to finish,” said Nestor. “They deserved to win. They put a lot of pressure on us and caused us to make a lot of errors. They came out really playing well. We started to play better and got close in the second set but we never really caught up to them today.”
The tie is now down to one day, with Sunday’s opening match between world No. 18 Nishikori and world No. 119 Dancevic a potential tie-clinching rubber for Japan. Dancevic must win in order for Canada to remain in contention to capture the tie. The fifth match is currently scheduled to be Peter Polansky (Thornhill, Ontario) against Go Soeda. Both team captains have the ability to substitute their players up to one hour prior to the start of the match.
Dancevic and Polansky are playing singles in place of Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario) and Pospisil who were both unable to recover in time from injury to play in the tie.
“I thought those guys came out really strong and we really didn’t take advantage of our chances,” said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. “The guys fought really hard and it was really a matter of a few points. We obviously need to win the next two. We did this a couple of years ago in Ecuador so we know it can be done. We know it’s difficult and we know it will be a challenge, but we will go at it tomorrow and try to get one win at a time.”
Canada is currently ranked No. 7 on the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking while Japan sits at No. 12. Japan owns a 5-0 record against Canada in Davis Cup action, but the two countries have not played each other since 1938.
The winner of this tie will move on to the quarter-finals in April versus the victor of the first-round tie between Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The losing nation will have to play a World Group play-off tie in September to retain their spot in the top level of the competition.
Play will resume with the reverse singles on Sunday, February 2 at 1 p.m. local time (Saturday at 11 p.m. ET). The matches will be broadcast by Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Please check local listings for the full schedule.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 122 nations competing in 2014. Only 16 countries entered in Davis Cup competition qualify for the World Group each year.
Live scoring and daily on-site blogs from respected tennis journalist Tom Tebbutt can be also found at www.tenniscanada.com.