Canada is now just one triumph away from ousting Chile in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-offs after Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, Ont.) and Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) both captured victories on Friday. Dancevic opened the tie, being held at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, with a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 victory over Christian Garin before Pospisil defeated Nicolas Jarry 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-3 to give Canada its best-case result on the first day of play.
Dancevic started well, taking the first set in just 31 minutes, and looked to be on his way to a simple two-set lead. However, despite serving for the second set twice and leading 5-1 in the tiebreaker, the veteran Canuck let 20-year-old Garin back into the match. After re-grouping, Dancevic was able to quickly re-assert his lead by reeling off five straight games. He was the stronger player from that point on, showing his greater experience in both Davis Cup play and on a fast indoor hard court surface.
“It’s always good getting through the first match and getting a point ahead; it puts a lot of pressure on the other team,” Dancevic said. “Also me being the No. 2 player and beating their No. 1, it’s an important win because it gives us a little bit of an advantage. Having said that, Davis Cup is a long weekend and we just need to stay focused on the task ahead.”
Pospisil followed suit, as he was tested by his opponent but ultimately came out on top over a lower-ranked player. A dominant 23-minute first set saw Pospisil live up to his No. 1 status for Canada in this tie. But Jarry didn’t go away, and played a high level to earn his only break of the match at 6-5 to even the duel up at one set apiece. Pospisil served well through the whole contest though, winning 81 per cent of his points on serve, and he finally wrested control in the tiebreaker of a very close set. With a late break in the fourth set, Pospisil had the win in his hands.
“I thought he played a good match, but I also thought I played a good one,” Pospisil said. “I think he only had one opportunity on my service game the whole match, and he played it well and I got broken. So I felt like I had the edge from start to finish but he was playing at a good level so it was important for me to stay calm and fight for every point.”
Canada now needs to win just one more match out of the final three to secure its spot in the World Group for 2017. The country, who is the higher-ranked team in this tie at No. 12 to Chile’s No. 23, is aiming to earn its place in the highest level of Davis Cup competition for the sixth straight year. Making the semifinals in 2013 and quarter-finals in 2015, Canada hasn’t been relegated to the zonal groups since 2011. The loser of this tie will play in Americas Zone Group I next year.
Action will resume on Saturday at 2 p.m. AT with the doubles duel, scheduled to pit Pospisil and Adil Shamasdin (Pickering, Ont.) against Chile’s Hans Podlipnik-Castillo and Jarry. The team captains, Canadian Martin Laurendeau and Chile’s Nicolas Massu, have until one hour before the match to change their nominations. The remaining two singles matches will be on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. AT. All matches will be best-of-five sets, with the exception of Sunday’s matches if the tie has already been decided.