VANCOUVER, CANADA: Canada is one win away from a trip to the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinals.
The Canadians put themselves in position to advance when Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil outlasted Italy’s Fabio Fognini and Daniele Bracciali 63 64 36 36 1513 in an epic four and a half hour doubles rubber on Saturday. Canada now holds a 2-1 lead heading to Sunday’s reverse singles matches.
For Pospisil, the doubles win was sweet redemption after squandering a two sets to none lead and falling to Andreas Seppi in the opening singles rubber on Friday. And for much of the doubles match it appeared history might repeat itself.
However, the Canadian duo broke Fognini to take a 14-13 lead and Pospisil served out the win as the hometown crowd that dealt with the ups and downs of Davis Cup action all day erupted.
For Nestor, the veteran doubles specialist, it was a crucial victory for Canada and it was also an important personal triumph after dropping his past three Davis Cup matches. Saturday’s win was Nestor’s 30th in Davis Cup doubles competition and the 40-year-old now sports an all-time record of 45-22.
“When you’ve played for 20 years, you’ve played in a lot of tough matches and this is one of the most gruelling and most important and I feel fortunate to get a win,” said Nestor, who revealed following the match that he had considered pulling out of the competition due to a sore hamstring. “The last few ties for whatever reason I haven’t come through so it’s nice to help out the team.”
Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau is pleased to have the lead heading to Sunday but realizes how evenly matched these two countries are – and the doubles match was proof of that.
“ It was a great Davis Cup match and this is why Davis Cup is the competition it is,” he said. “The ups and downs and drama. One minute you’re up and the next you think you’re going to lose. You can’t fight for a semi-final berth without earning your right and it’s going to be like this again tomorrow.”
His Italian counterpart Corrado Barazzutti was proud of the effort of his doubles team to battle back after the slow start, but he knows his team is now facing a tough task needing a pair of wins Sunday to advance.
“We were very close to winning that match, but we lost -- this is tennis,” he said. “The Canadian team played well and there is nothing more to say. My team played really good and tried until the last point. I think Raonic has a big responsibility tomorrow and he’s playing against Seppi, one of the best players in the world, so I think that will be a tough match for Raonic too.”
On Sunday, Canada can close out this tie when Milos Raonic faces Andreas Seppi in a battle of world top-20 players. The fifth and deciding rubber, if necessary, has Pospisil scheduled to play Fognini.
However both players have already taken to the court twice in this quarterfinal including Saturday’s marathon and it’s quite possible both captains could make changes including Jesse Levine who could make his Canadian Davis Cup debut while Italy has world number 57 Paolo Lorenzi available for selection. Fognini replaced Lorenzi in Italy’s line for Saturday’s doubles.
The Canada-Italy winner will move on to face the winner of the USA versus Serbia tie which the Serbians lead 2-1 after a victory in a doubles match that also ended 15-13 in the deciding set on Saturday.
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Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 06/04/2013
Daniel Nestor (CAN) - 06/04/2013
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) - 06/04/2013
Captain Corrado Barazzutti (ITA) - 06/04/2013
Fabio Fognini (ITA) - 06/04/2013