Davis Cup: Canada to play Japan in first round in 2014

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Despite confusion, TV numbers from last week’s Canada-Serbia tussle suggest Canadians are starting to embrace the Davis Cup, Damien Cox writes.

Yes, even as a tennis fan, I understand the way in which the Davis Cup seems to have no real beginning and no real ending. It just goes on and on.

I get that.

The perfect example? Canada just was defeated in the world semifinal by Serbia, which will now move on to the 2013 Davis Cup final to take on the Czech Republic in mid-November, likely in Belgrade.

Yet here we are this morning learning that Serbia has already drawn Roger Federer and Switzerland for the first round of the 2014 World Group playoffs in late January, while the Czechs will play the Dutch.

Huh? It’s kind of like if the NHL released its 2015 playoff first round matchups on the eve of the 2014 Stanley Cup final.

It may have to be this way due to logistics. But yeah, I get the confusion.

Still, the TV numbers from last week’s Canada-Serbia tussle suggest Canadians are starting to embrace the Davis Cup, particularly with identifiable players like Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.

For the January round, Canada got a relatively favourable draw in Japan, which managed to knock off Colombia at home last weekend by doing what the Serbs did, winning the two reverse singles matches on the final day.

The difficult part for the Canadians is that they lost a coin flip and the tie will take place in Tokyo. The good part is that from a travel point of view, it will take part on the heels of the Australian Open, and it’s a lot easier to get to Tokyo from Melbourne than to have to travel halfway around the world. For example, Spain will play Germany, and the two teams will have to pack up from Down Under and jet to Germany in a matter of days.

The Japanese are led by Kei Nishikori, one of Raonic’s contemporaries in the up-and-coming, 23-and-under crowd on the ATP tour. Raonic is ranked No. 11 in the world, while Nishikori is right on his heels at No. 12.

But while Pospisil is ranked No. 41 and on the rise – he says his ankle injury from Sunday won’t keep him out long – Japan’s next best player, 29-year-old Go Soeda, has fallen out of the top 100 and is currently No. 123.

All in all, it’s a solid chance for Canada to get back to the World Group quarter-finals again next spring, and that tie would be back on home soil.

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