This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Pospisil wins marathon match; Raonic falls in return to action
The Miele Canadian Davis Cup team is tied with Israel 1-1 after the first day of action in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off tie taking place at Canada Stadium in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. It was a long day of upsets as Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) was victorious in the opening match 7-6(4), 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3 over Israel’s No. 1 player Dudi Sela while rising star Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ontario) was defeated by No. 182 Amir Weintraub, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.
Pospisil, ranked a career-high No. 124, gave Canada a 1-0 lead after defeating Sela, No. 96, in a marathon 4 hour and 56 minute five-set match. In a tight back-and-forth affair, both players showed stretches of dominance and periods of fatigue. Pospisil started extremely strong, jumping out to a 4-1 first set lead, but a determined Sela settled his nerves to battle back and force a tiebreak. The second set saw the roles reverse with Sela breaking early to move ahead 3-0 and Pospisil storming back to push it to the decider. After two incredibly tight sets, Sela faded and Pospisil started to dominate until midway through the fourth set when the Israeli crept back into it and sent the match to a fifth set. Despite being down an early break in the fifth, Canada’s No. 2 singles player remained focused, fought back and secured a valuable first point for Team Canada.
“This feeling is incredible and really hard to describe,” said Pospisil post-match. “To come back from down a break in the last set and win my first five-setter against a player like Dudi and on an important stage like this is unbelievable. I just stuck with the process and took it point by point. It’s all adrenaline when you get to that fifth set so I just really dug deep. I’m so happy right now.”
It was then up to Raonic, in his first match back since injuring his hip at Wimbledon in June, to try and increase Canada’s lead to 2-0 and put Israel in a stranglehold. Israel’s No. 2 player Weintraub, playing on his 25th birthday, held his own against the No. 31 ranked player in the world to start the match, but Raonic’s blistering serve and a late break helped him take the first set. However, Weintraub continued to test Raonic, matched him serve for serve and took advantage of Raonic’s obvious rust to mount a comeback and win the next three sets and the match to even the tie for Israel.
“I think the biggest surprise was the inconsistency,” said Raonic about his play. “Normally the big thing for me is to be consistent throughout the whole match. Mentally I was just so-so and he really stayed on top of me. I had a few chances but he did a very good job of taking advantage of his opportunities.”
The tie now becomes a best two-of-three series with the doubles match on tap for Saturday and reverse singles scheduled for Sunday. In doubles, world No. 5 Daniel Nestor (Toronto) will partner with Pospisil against Israel’s talented and experienced tandem of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, ranked No. 15 in the world as a team. Sunday will kick-off with Raonic versus Sela followed by Pospisil against Weintraub in a potential deciding rubber. The captains of both teams do have the ability to substitute their players up to an hour prior to the start of the match. Peter Polansky (Thornhill, Ontario) is the fourth member of Canada’s Davis Cup squad.
“We knew each match would be tough and it turned out that way and doubles will be difficult tomorrow too,” said Canada’s captain Martin Laurendeau. “That was a huge win for Vasek and really builds off of what he was able to accomplish this summer. Milos hasn’t played in three months and was sick the past couple of days but he looked good physically. He’s got a match in now and has some time to analyze a bit and get better for the next one.”
A win over Israel will advance the Canadian squad to the elite World Group for the first time since 2004. Only 16 teams entered in Davis Cup play qualify for World Group. The losing nation will remain in their zonal group for 2012.
Play will resume at 8:00 a.m. ET on Saturday with the doubles match while the remaining two singles matches will be on Sunday, September 18 at 7:30 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the match on Saturday can be seen on Sportsnet ONE while Sunday’s matches will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet East, West, Pacific and Ontario. Matches are also being streamed live on www.sportsnet.ca.