Middelkerke (Ostend)– The Canadian Davis Cup team was defeated by Belgium 3-0 in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarter-final tie on Saturday after the hosts clinched the third and final point needed for victory in the doubles rubber. The pairing of Daniel Nestor (Toronto) and Adil Shamasdin (Toronto) were unable to keep Canada’s hopes alive, falling 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans. The tie is being played on an outdoor clay court at the Sportpark Krokodiel in Middelkerke (Ostend), Belgium.
Entering the match down 2-0 to the home team after opening day singles losses by Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, Ontario) and Filip Peliwo (Vancouver), Nestor and Shamasdin were in a must-win situation to keep Canada alive in the best-of-five tie.
This was the one match of the weekend where Canada was favoured on paper with Nestor ranked No. 24 in the world in doubles and Shamasdin at No. 65. Bemelmans is the highest ranked doubles player for Belgium at No. 189 while Coppejans sits at No. 921. In singles, their respective rankings are No. 95 and No. 102.
The two teams were each comprised of one veteran and one Davis Cup rookie as Shamasdin and Coppejans were both making their debuts. It was there that both teams found openings in the first set as Coppejans and Shamasdin were both broken early. However, after a second break on the Canadian’s serve, the young Belgian showed his mettle by serving out the first set to give his team the lead. Three consecutive breaks late in the second set gave Nestor the chance to serve it out and even the match, which he did after saving one break point.
After that, every time the Canadians got an advantage or felt momentum shift their way, the Belgians were quick to counter and even the score, not allowing their opponents to find a rhythm in their first Davis Cup match as a pair. With the Belgians up a break in the third and Bemelmans serving to close it, the Canadians broke serve only to give it right back the next game thanks to clutch returning from both Belgian players. Nestor double faulted on break point serving at 2-1 in the fourth set and that was the final advantage the Belgians needed to seal up their spot in the semifinals.
“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” said Shamasdin. “We had our chances. Their level got better as the match went on and they were feeding off the crowd’s energy. We couldn’t get enough balls in play. Our standard is better than that and we didn’t come with the goods today.”
Nestor was playing in his 49th Davis Cup tie for Canada, adding to his record of most ties played by a Canadian.
“Obviously they played well,” said Nestor. “I think the big difference today was returns. They hit some really quality returns. We’d win points if we hit great serves but if we didn’t start the point strong their return game was better than ours. They hit some lucky shots too. But overall that was the difference.”
Canada is now out of contention for the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas title while Belgium has advanced to the semifinals and will play Argentina at home in September.
“Of course it’s disappointing as we felt we had a chance, but I’m proud of what we did this year,” said team captain Martin Laurendeau. “We still made quarter-finals for just the second time in history. That is nothing to be ashamed of. We just got beat by a better team this weekend. I feel proud of the guys that stepped in due to the injuries to our top players. It’s not an easy way to make your Davis Cup debut in such a big moment and in conditions that aren’t favourable to us. I’m just really proud of the way the whole team prepared and gave it everything they had.”
The two reverse singles matches scheduled for Sunday, July 19 will still be played but as best-of-three set matches instead of best-of-five. The current line-up has world No. 14 David Goffin up against Dancevic in the first match followed by Peliwo versus Steve Darcis. The captains are able make player substitutions up to one hour prior to the start of the match. Play will resume at 1 p.m. local time.