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Canada leads Japan 2-1 after Day 2 of Davis Cup

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The Canadian Davis Cup team is one win away from clinching its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first-round tie against Japan after Daniel Nestor (Toronto) and Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver) defeated Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Saturday at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on the campus of University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

It was an up-and-down affair, with neither team able to hold onto their momentum from set to set. Canada jumped out to the one-set lead by breaking at 6-5 in the first set but Japan rapidly came back with an early break in the second set. The third and fourth sets followed in similar fashion, with neither pair able to overcome early service breaks by their opponents. The two teams ended up with similar serving statistics, with Nestor and Pospisil winning 75 per cent of their first serve points, 56 per cent on their second serve, and going four-for-11 on break chances compared to 72 per cent for Soeda and Yasutaka on their first serve, 47 per cent on their second, and four-for-12 on break point opportunities.


“It was a little bit of a rollercoaster match and the atmosphere was incredible,” Pospisil said. “We used the crowd really well when we needed to, especially in the fifth set. It kind of saved the energy a bit for the end of the fifth because you know can you suddenly pounce on them and the crowd will get on top of them in tight moments in the match and it paid off.”

Nestor and Pospisil closed out the win by taking the last eight points of the match – breaking at love on Soeda’s serve to go up 5-3 before Pospisil served out the match at love. Canada never trailed in the contest and secured the win in just shy of three hours – at the two hour and 58-minute mark.

“It was 4-3 in the fifth and we got hot a little bit and connected,” Nestor said. “I guess it was the first time they felt their back against the wall in a while. But it was more us putting pressure on them and they didn’t really fold. It was one point where they double faulted, but other than that I thought we played good points in that game.”

Canada now needs just one more victory to secure its place in the World Group quarter-finals for the second time in its history – first accomplished in 2013 with a 3-2 victory over Spain in Vancouver. The winner of this tie will earn a spot in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition and in the World Group for 2016, while the loser will need to participate in a World Group play-off in September in order to maintain its position in the elite 16-team category.

“It puts more pressure on your opponents,” Canadian Davis Cup team captain Martin Laurendeau said of taking the 2-1 lead heading into Sunday. “You have one more match to win but it’s often the toughest one. Everyone would rather be up 2-1 than down 2-1. Hopefully that allows Milos to breathe a little easier and help him begin the match tomorrow just a little bit more relaxed and be loose and play his game a little bit more comfortably.”

The first day of action at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre saw world No. 6 Milos Raonic (Thornhill, Ont.) capture a dominating 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 win over Japanese No. 2 Tatsuma Ito and Pospisil fall to world No. 4 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3 to give the tie an even 1-1 scoreline. The fourth member of team Canada is 21-time Davis Cup participant Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, Ont.).

Play will resume on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT with the reverse singles matches, opening with a hotly-anticipated battle between the two squads’ No. 1 players, Raonic and Nishikori in a must-win duel for the Japanese. The potentially deciding fifth match is currently set to feature No. 2 players Pospisil against Ito. The team captains have until one hour before the match to change their nominations.