On Tuesday, Team Canada presented by Sobeys will take another step toward something never before seen in Canadian tennis history.
The title defense heats up when Canada faces Finland on Tuesday in a do-or-die quarterfinal to kick off the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga.
Although the team knows it won’t be easy to become the first country in a decade to repeat as champions, that doesn’t affect their mindset heading into the week.
“It’s amazing for the guys to be together again. We don’t really feel a lot of pressure, to be honest. I think the victory was really important for us to win the trophy,” explained captain Frank Dancevic during the team’s introductory press conference.
“Of course it would be great to get it again, to win it this year. We’re not going to hold back. We’re still going to go 110 percent. I feel like this year we’re focused, but we’re also more relaxed knowing we won the trophy. ”
For Félix Auger-Aliassime, who played the best tennis of his career last fall including the title race in Malaga, the return to southern Spain is welcome.
“It was special to see the court again. It was a very special moment for me personally last year, winning the last match to clinch the title,” said the Canadian number 1. 1. “It’s always nice to be back.” Better for me to be back as the defending champion. It’s nice to come back to a place where you have good memories, and I hope it can help us this week.
Four of the five members of Canada’s championship-winning team are back: Auger-Aliassime, Gabriel Diallo, Alexis Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil.
The only “new” member of the team is a familiar face, that of veteran Milos Raonic who is playing his first appearance for the national team since 2018.
Three of the members of this Canadian team had never played a match for Team Canada the last time the Thornhill missile donned the red and white (Galarneau, Diallo and Auger-Aliassime who was nominated during this 2018 meeting but did not play his first match for Canada until the following year).
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“It’s a great pleasure to be back with these guys. What they did last year was incredibly inspiring,” Raonic said. “Whatever I can do to help, it would be my greatest pleasure.” »
Canada comes to the Davis Cup not only in first place. 1 among the men, but also among the women after the Billie Jean King Cup triumph earlier in November. Canada is currently the sixth nation to hold both titles simultaneously.
For the team’s older players like Raonic and Pospisil, it’s something that seemed unimaginable not long ago.
“It’s an incredible time for tennis in Canada right now. We’ve kind of been building up to this moment over the last 12, 13, 14 years, or even before that,” Pospisil said. “I feel like every couple of years we’ve had something, gotten more success on the big stage. 2013 semi-finals with Milos and Daniel [Nestor] and Frank. It’s incredible.”
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Even young people understand the importance of Canada’s current successes.
As Auger-Aliassime expressed it, “growing up, it seemed very far away, and I think for Vasek, Milos and Frank, when they were playing, it was something difficult to imagine. It shows how much we have grown as a country in this sport. It was great to see the depth with which they [the women’s team] I also have with Marina [Stakusic] she came in and played incredible tennis in her first Billie Jean King Cup. This shows that it’s not just about a few good players. There are a lot of good players in our group.
The Canadian number 1 also joked that the women’s victory added motivation to the men’s team, saying: “This is happening right before we leave for the Davis Cup, they are putting pressure on us now, this which is good. It’s good to see men’s and women’s tennis in our country pushing each other towards the highest rankings. It’s a beautiful thing to think that we have both men and women. 1.”
The men must now do their part to ensure Canada remains unified champions for another 12 months, which means becoming the first team to repeat as Davis Cup champions since Czechia in 2012-13.
“We arrived early. We are preparing, trying to be as ready as possible and keep the energy from last year’s trophy win,” Dancevic said.
The campaign resumes Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. local in Malaga, 10:00 a.m. EST, against Finland.
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