Middelkerke (Ostend) – The Canadian Davis Cup team trails Belgium 2-0 after the opening day of play in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarter-final tie. With world No. 8 Milos Raonic and world No. 29 Vasek Pospisil unavailable for the tie due to injury, it was world No. 272 Frank Dancevic and world No. 491 Filip Peliwo who were called upon to take on a tough Belgium squad. Dancevic dropped the opening singles rubber to No. 76 Steve Darcis 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 and Peliwo was unable to even the score falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to Belgium’s No. 1 player David Goffin in the second match of the day. The tie is being played on an outdoor clay court at the Sportpark Krokodiel in Middelkerke (Ostend), Belgium.
Dancevic, who has been a Davis Cup stalwart for over a decade, was grinding for every point from the start, but it was Darcis who drew first blood, breaking early in the first set to take a 3-2 lead. That woke Dancevic up as he broke right back and went on to win the next four games and the first set.
It was the Belgian who got on a roll in the second set though, winning six straight games after an opening service hold from Dancevic. The third set stayed the course until 5-5 when Darcis got the critical break and went on to serve it out for a two sets to one lead. It was close again in the fourth until another late break gave Darcis the final advantage he needed. Dancevic had two break point opportunities to even it up again but wasn’t able to capitalize. He was then broken a second time to give Darcis the win and Belgium the opening point of the tie.
“A couple points really made the difference today,” said Dancevic. “It was really close and I could have gotten myself back in the match. I had a couple break chances in the third and fourth sets but he played really well on the key points. He just played better in the big moments than I did.”
Peliwo, who was making his Davis Cup debut for Canada, was handed a very tough task in taking on Goffin, the highest ranked player in the tie at world No. 14. It was an extremely valiant effort from the former No. 1 junior and two-time Junior Grand Slam champion, but Goffin’s experience and quality shot-making was too much to overcome.
Some early nerves saw the pair swap breaks in the first set but Goffin got the extra one he needed to take the lead. He went on to break Peliwo four more times in the match while the Canadian barely got another look on Goffin’s service games apart from two break point chances during one game in the middle of the second set and another in the third. Playing his first ever five-set match, Peliwo held his own but ultimately wasn’t able to get Canada on the board in the tie.
“I did my best today but it wasn’t good enough,” said Peliwo. “I think I played a good match against a Top 15 player and it was a really good experience for me. Against a guy like that you have to play pretty aggressive and I tried to do that but he showed why he’s ranked where he is. There are no regrets on my part. I didn’t feel like I was too far off from him and I was confident I could win but it just didn’t work out that way.”
Now in a stranglehold, Canada needs to win all three remaining matches in the best-of-five series to claim victory over Belgium and reach the semifinals.
“The guys gave it all they had today,” said team captain Martin Laurendeau. “It’s a tough team, it’s a tough surface and it’s tough conditions. But we didn’t come here just to put forth a good effort and go home. We really came here to win. So now, we need to get the doubles point tomorrow and go from there. As long as we are alive in the tie, we will keep the faith and keep playing.”
Play resumes on Saturday, July 18 at 3 p.m. local time with the doubles match. The current scheduled lineup will pit Daniel Nestor and Adil Shamasdin against Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans who will be looking to clinch the tie for the home team. Sunday will then see the reverse singles with Dancevic playing Goffin and Peliwo facing-off against Darcis. The captains of both teams have the ability to substitute their players up to an hour prior to the start of the match.
Canada is the seeded team with a Davis Cup world ranking of No. 7 while Belgium is ranked No. 13. Canada currently holds a 1-0 record against Belgium with the only meeting between the two countries being a 4-0 Canadian victory in 1913 – the first year Canada ever competed in Davis Cup. The winner of this tie will move on to the World Group semifinals against the winner of a tie between Serbia and Argentina.
Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 126 nations competing in 2015. Only 16 countries entered in Davis Cup competition qualify for the World Group each year.