Pospisil out of singles match
But young Vancouver player will team up with Nestor in doubles action
So it was more Vasek Pospisil's recent bout with mononucleosis than a disagreement with Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Lau-rendeau which provided the slap in the face for this time around.
The Vancouver star was not chosen to play in Friday's singles, apparently because the Canadian team was concerned about his stamina over a five-set match.
And they're not concerned about Frank Dancevic's?
But it's a reasonable decision given how this is the last chance at making history for Dancevic if he's able to help Canada win its first-ever World Group tie, and everything sets up perfectly for him given the fast court conditions. He's as good a bet as Pospisil given that he has done it in clutch situations in the past.
For now, it appears that Laurendeau will allow Pospisil to at least show his face Saturday in what could be the crucial doubles match with partner Daniel Nestor.
Then again, we all thought that the last time this team was here and Milos Raonic ended up playing with Nestor as a surprise starter against France. As we all remember, it didn't go well. Not only did the pairing lose dismally, Raonic managed to injure himself and pulled the pin on Sunday, ending Canada's chances with Laurendeau's bet not working out so well.
"I think a lot of people were amazed I was this far along after three weeks and I feel fine, it's just that my stamina might not be where we'd want it to be going five sets," Pospisil says.
"But I'll definitely be ready for doubles."
He'd better be because he's about to become a victim of rampant, open and public bullying on the part of the Spanish doubles team of Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers, assuming the sore shoulder of the latter holds up after Friday's singles match against Dancevic.
All those activist types constantly bleating about bullying should be there to prevent this terribly unfair treatment because just about every ball the Spaniards hit once a rally starts will be directed at young Pospisil, the one guy in this match who isn't right near the top of the world doubles rankings.
"Playing with Daniel as many times as I have, you do get used to it," says Pospisil, who knows how other teams try to avoid the man the Spanish are calling 'the legend' by hitting all the balls at the youngster. "I've seen it lots of times before - it happens all the time when we play - so I'll be ready for it and my job is to make sure I'm ready to be at my best for that one day."
Part of the responsibility for getting Pospisil ready for Saturday's match lies in Nestor's hands in terms of keeping the 22-year-old calm and tipped off on whatever particulars he may have picked up in previous matches against the highly touted Spanish team over the years.
As Grant Connell, Canada's former Davis Cup captain, star player and former No. 1 doubles player in the world points out: "It's up to Milos and Daniel to keep Pospisil calm to play well enough to beat their team. Doubles is not like singles in that it doesn't matter how well one guy can play if the other guy is not rising to the occasion.
"Nestor can't carry it by himself, as people assume. Nestor usually rises to the occasion and has had great wins in Davis Cup but it will come down to how well Pospisil plays. Davis Cup is one of those events that as a player I wasn't sure if I liked it or hated it.
"There's no hiding on Court 22 in front of three spectators. You win or lose publicly, and that's what sinks people or gets guys like Nestor in his singles wins to a higher level of play. It's just so unpredictable as to who will shine and who will fold."
There's another bizarre factor for Canada going into this as well. Everyone is assuming Raonic will automatically win his singles matches, as though it's like swatting away a fly. But he's never had that pressure on him before to carry the team; he was always the up-and-comer and a mistake could be forgiven.
The last time he was here, he wasn't so established in his career and was slated to play great players to whom a loss wouldn't be the end of the world.
If Spain had their full team, that would still be the case. But now, on this surface, it's assumed he wins. He should, but you're dealing with a very different dynamic.
And as Connell points out, it's all front and centre on national television.
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