NEW YORK – First, no Milos Raonic. Now, it appears doubles stalwart Daniel Nestor also will be missing in action when Canada meets Chile next weekend in Halifax in a crucial World Group playoff tie.
Tennis Canada has not yet announced it but Eh Game has learned that Nestor, who injured his calf in the days leading up to the US Open and aggravated the injury early in his first-round doubles match with Vasek Pospisil against Americans Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul, won't have healed up in time to play.
It's not the first time Nestor's had issues with his calf. On previous occasions, it took 10 days to two weeks to heal up. Even with that optimistic timeframe, it would have been cutting it close for Halifax. At 44, Nestor just isn't going to bounce back from these things as quickly as he could have in previous years, and so it appears on this occasion.
Nestor also missed the first-round World Group tie against France in Guadeloupe last March because of a family matter; his young daughter was quite ill. Raonic missed that one as well. So the Canadian Davis Cup team has been missing two of its key elements all season and once again, will count on Canadian No. 2 Vasek Pospisil to carry a big load.
Who will replace Nestor on the four-man roster? No doubt captain Martin Laurendeau is pondering his options. Doubles specialist Adil Shamasdin was already scheduled to be with the team in Halifax, but for whatever reason Tennis Canada has never seemed too high on giving him an opportunity to play. Peter Polansky, Philip Bester and Filip Peliwo, the other Canadian players with Davis Cup experience, are not scheduled to be in Halifax. That could change, obviously; Bester probably is considered the best doubles player of the lot and flew to Guadeloupe late in the game to fill hat role against France, teaming up with Pospisil.
Frank Dancevic, likely to play singles, has Davis Cup doubles experience. Shapovalov, the 17-year-old junior Wimbledon champion who is nominated for Davis Cup for the first time, has been a fine doubles player at the junior level. He and Félix Auger-Aliassime won the junior boys' doubles at the US Open last year and reached the final at Wimbledon this year. He has two titles at the Futures level in his so-far limited experience in the pros.
All can change, depending on how well Canada does on Friday in the first two singles rubbers. Even without Raonic, they certainly are favoured to win both; Chile doesn't have any top-level players to challenge the Canadians – especially on a fast indoor surface.
The four-player roster will be set in stone on Thursday, but Laurendeau can make late substitutions to the announced doubles pair up to one hour before the beginning of the match.