With Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor out, Canada goes with Adil Shamasdin and Philiip Bester to fill out Davis Cup roster vs. France

The velodrome, converted into a tennis stadium for the weekend, is expected to be jam-packed with 6,000 (mostly French) fans every day of the Davis Cup tie. (Stephanie Myles/

LE GOSIER, Guadeloupe – Few Davis Cup teams, if any, could make up for the absence of their best singles player and best, most experienced doubles player.

Canada is no exception to that, and the lack of depth is even more glaring this weekend as Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor will miss this World Group first-round tie against France.

The opponents have four players ranked in the top-20 in singles to choose from; had one of them failed to make the date, there are three more top-50 singles players and some doubles Grand Slam champions at home who failed to make the cut.

Even in Australia, where No. 2 singles player Nick Kyrgios had to bow out of a tie this weekend against the U.S. because of illness, the Aussies had a just-retired captain, the legendary Lleyton Hewitt, whose level is still strong enough that he inserted himself into the four-man lineup at Thursday's draw.

After several years of seeing the same familiar faces on the Canadian Davis Cup team, there were some new faces at Wednesday night's dinner – all snappily attired. (Tennis Canada)
After several years of seeing the same familiar faces on the Canadian Davis Cup team, there were some new faces at Wednesday night's dinner – all snappily attired. (Tennis Canada)

The Canadians don't have those options (captain Martin Laurendeau has been retired a long, long time), and so the two extra players they brought along as practice partners, Adil Shamasdin and Philip Bester, will now be among the four nominations. The draw will take place at noon, Guadeloupe time (11 a.m. EST).

For the French, it's hard to tell which two among the embarassment of riches will make the cut for singles; they can choose between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gaël Monfils. For Canada, Vasek Pospisil will be expected to carry the load, much as he did back in 2011 when, in the absence of Raonic, he almost single-handedly carried Canada to victory against Israel on the road.

This is a far more daunting task, especially as he won't have Nestor by his side for the doubles.

Frank Dancevic, who has the most Davis Cup ties on his resumé of any of them but, in recent years, has taken a backup role, should play second singles even though he has not had a particularly successful season so far in 2016.

Shamasdin is the only true doubles player on the squad. Currently ranked No. 77, the 33-year-old made his Davis Cup debut only last fall in the quarter-final against Belgium (a tie that was missing both Raonic and Pospisil because of injury). He and Nestor lost in four sets to a less-accomplished team; one issue there is that on the regular ATP Tour, Shamasdin plays the backhand side. So does Nestor. Guess who won that game of rock, paper, scissors?

Bester is a 27-year-old who was a late addition to the practice squad. Captain Martin Laurendeau had decided 22-year-old Filip Peliwo would come along on the trip, and Peliwo had travelled to Florida last week to play a $10,000 tournament on a similar surface, Har-Tru.

But with Raonic's participation already very much in doubt, Laurendeau opted to send Peliwo home and choose Bester, who has played four Davis Cup singles matches in his career. Two of them came in 2006, in the American zonal competition, when he was just 18 and a highly-touted prospect. His other matches came nearly five years ago in a zonal tie against Ecuador; Bester won the fifth and deciding rubber after Canada overcame an 0-2 deficit, and that allowed them to go to Israel and win that epic tie to rejoin the World Group for the first time since 2004 and only the second time since 1992.

So that's something. But Bester, currently ranked No. 274, is unlikely to see action while the outcome is still in doubt.