OTTAWA – The last time the Davis Cup came to Canada’s capital city, Daniel Nestor was a shy 21-year-old still making his mark in singles as he was rapidly becoming one of the best doubles players in the world.
When the historic country vs. country competition returns Feb. 3-5 as Canada faces Great Britain in the first round of the Davis Cup’s World Group, Nestor will be 44 – and still among the 15 best doubles players in the world.
From what he was saying Wednesday as Tennis Canada held a press conference at the Arena at TD Place to officially announce the details of the tie, he’s not planning to stop any time soon.
Here’s Nestor on the past, and the future. He plans to team with talented but injury-plagued German Philipp Petzschner in doubles next season.
As the press conference went on, the sound of slapshots hitting rink boards could be heard in the background as the junior Ottawa 67s practised. The team has agreed to relocate or reschedule three of its games to accommodate the tie – one on the Sunday before the tie as the ice surface is removed and the court structure set up, and two games during the actual weekend the matches will be played. The capacity for the tie is expected to be about 8,000.
Despite his absence for two Davis Cup ties and the Olympics in 2016, Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said he expected his No. 1, Milos Raonic, to be on hand for this one.
Nestor, who spoke to his friend Murray in Paris, said he expected the current world No. 1 to play as well. That would set up a world-class fourth rubber between the respective countries’ No. 1 players, first up on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Davis Cup first-round ties were the first week of March this year; they have been moved up a month for 2017, so the turnaround if either Murray or Raonic goes deep into the first Grand Slam of the season is short.
The tie is scheduled the weekend after the Australian Open finals, and the trip from Melbourne to Ottawa is a gruelling one. So the availabilities could still change depending on how deep Murray and Raonic go in Melbourne (Raonic was a semifinalist this year, losing to Murray and injuring his adductor in the process).
Health issues did not allow Raonic to play either of Canada’s ties this season. Murray played singles and doubles in Great Britain’s first round against Japan, traveled to Serbia to offer his moral support for the quarterfinal (which came the week after he won Wimbledon) and played both singles and doubles in a heartbreaker of a defeat to Argentina in the semifinals, the week after the U.S. Open.
From London, where he is playing in the ATP Tour Finals, Raonic told the media he was happy with the fact that the tie was at home, despite the long trip.
“I think it’s probably the best solution because my plan was to be back there anyways after the Australian Open due to the fact that my next tournaments anyways are in North America, in that time zone,” he said. “It’s an ideal setting. I’m sure it will be a great venue as well.”