A place in the World Group is at stake when Canada takes on South Africa in the Davis Cup. Having made the breakthrough in 2011, Canada’s future at the top of the tree rests on the shoulders of Milos Raonic. Al Dannity previews this weekend’s match.
Back into national team action The last time Milos Raonic played for Canada was in his lengthy duel with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Olympics. Raonic came up second best, eventually, to the Frenchman but showed the heart he has for representing his country. This weekend he’ll need to display that same kind of fire as he leads a ragtag Canadian team against South Africa.
Home advantage was meant to side with South Africa but has been moved to the Uniprix Stadium in Montreal. That’s a big plus for a Canadian side comprising a mixture of veterans and promising youngsters. Vasek Pospisil and Frank Dancevic are options in the singles while the ageless Daniel Nestor will likely team up with Pospisil in Saturday’s doubles. The Canadian party also includes the likes of Peter Polansky and junior Filip Peliwo. Polansky and Peliwo will likely only see action if Canada takes an unassailable 3-0 into Sunday’s vital pair of singles matches. It’s unlikely but not impossible against the underdog South Africans. Rik de Voest, ranked 170 in the ATP standings, is the top player on their squad. That should mean Raonic can be relied on for a pair of successes in the singles but the battle evens out over the other three match-ups. This one could go down to the wire.
A chance to build You don’t need to look far back into Davis Cup history to see how success on this level can catapult a player into greater success on the main circuit. Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic have both enjoyed the best form of their careers since winning the competition with Serbia in 2010. Likewise Fernando Verdasco followed up on Davis Cup triumph with Spain in 2008 with a Semi-Final appearance at the Australian Open a few months later. Raonic recognises the mental strength he can gain from success with the national team.
“You look at Djokovic doing the same when they won in 2010, going to No. 1, Tipsarevic feeding off it. At one point, they [Serbia] had three guys in the top 15.When you can do these things and do them well, it gives you an intangible,” said Raonic.
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