February 1, 2014, Tokyo (ISN) – The Canadian Davis Cup team was defeated 4-1 by Japan in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie on Sunday at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan.
Entering the day trailing 2-1 after a disappointing loss in doubles on Saturday, Canada needed to win both singles matches in order to advance to the quarter-finals. However, Frank Dancevic was forced to retire down 2-6, 0-1 to world No. 18 Kei Nishikori in the first rubber of the day which clinched the tie for Japan and forced Canada into a World Group play-off in September. Peter Polansky (Thornhill, Ontario) fell to Go Soeda in the dead fifth rubber 6-1, 6-4.
With both players having played singles on Friday and doubles on Saturday, energy was bound to be a factor in the match and it was Nishikori who came out looking like the fresher player. Dancevic held his serve the first game but Nishikori went on to break twice, win the next five games and eventually the set.
After being broken to start the third set, Dancevic took a medical timeout for an abdominal strain and was then forced to retire, handing the match and the tie to Japan.
“Kei came out playing really well today and once I pulled a stomach muscle early in the second set there was no way I could stay with him when I could only serve at 20 percent,” said Dancevic. “I couldn’t risk making it any worse so after consulting with the doctor and physio I had to stop. Under other circumstances I probably wouldn’t have even stepped on the court with the way I was feeling, but this is Davis Cup and I wanted to give it all I had and push to the limit because this situation means a lot to me. I gave it my all and the whole team tried our hardest and did everything we could possibly do this week to give it our best shot, but Japan was the better team this week.”
The victory advances Japan to the Davis Cup quarter-finals against the winner of a tie between Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Canada meanwhile will have to play a World Group play-off tie from September 12-14 to keep their spot in the upper echelon of the competition. Canada’s opponent and choice of ground for that tie will be determined at the World Group play-off draw which will be conducted April 8 at 11 a.m. GMT at the International Tennis Federation offices in London.
Canada was without their two top singles players for the tie as both No. 11 Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario) and No.25 Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) were unable to recover from injuries in time to play.
“We just battled with so many things this week and nothing really went our way when it came to injuries,” said Canadian team captain Martin Laurendeau. “It’s obviously disappointing but you can’t blame these guys, they gave their all. Even Vasek and Milos did everything they could to try and play but there wasn’t enough time for them to be ready. Then Frank and Peter stepped in and left everything on the court every time they went out there. With what we accomplished last year, we didn’t want to take a step back like this but hopefully everyone gets healthy and has a strong season and we can fight hard to keep our spot in September.”
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.