By Mike McIntyre
Canada's slim chances today in the Davis Cup against France took a serious hit with the announcement by Tennis Canada that star singles player Milos Raonic has had to withdraw due to knee pain he experienced yesterday in his doubles match with Daniel Nestor.
In a statement released to the press Raonic said, "After our doubles match yesterday I consulted with my team, and a team of doctors regarding some pain in my knee. After extensive discussions, the doctors determined it is not in my best interest to play today. We are continuing to explore the reasoning behind the pain, and taking it day by day. Obviously I am extremely disappointed to not be able to play for my team today, but I will be cheering them on from the sidelines and want the focus to stay on winning this tie."
Raonic's comments regarding focus are likely related to the fact he has declined to speak directly with members of the media and will not take any questions for the remainder of the tie. His decision has quite rightly upset the press who would like to delve deeper into how this situation came to be. Hopefully later today Canada's coach Martin Laurendeau can enlighten us on the particulars.
I was informed by Tennis Canada staff that the decision for Raonic to avoid speaking to the press came directly from the player's agent Graham Cross. Perhaps it's time for the young Canuck to seek direction from someone else as his lack of communication with the press is causing more distraction than a quick ten minute Q&A ever would.
In the meantime, Raonic's spot will be taken by Canada's former singles stalwart, Frank Dancevic of Niagra Falls, Ontario. Dancevic held promise in his early to mid twenties until injuries began to take their toll on him and forced him into several absences from the ATP World Tour.
Currently Dancevic is ranked 178th in the world rankings and at the age of 27 has probably seen his best days on tour behind him. He reached a career-high back in 2007 when he was ranked No. 65 in the world. He has a solid serve, though nothing in the range of what Milos can bring to the court. He plays a game that displays a variety of shots and no fear of coming into the net when necessary. We'll see what he has in store for Jo Wilfried Tsgonga today who likely has very little intel on his new opponent.
Dancevic made some news in 2011 for becoming the first male player to ever qualify for all of the Grand Slams in one calendar year. The experience seemed to buoy his confidence as he revealed that, "I believe that I am a Top 100 player and deserve to be back there."
Canada will be hoping that his performance today is one that supports the above statement. A loss to Tsonga will seal Canada's fate and deliver the victory to France who are already leading the tie 2-1.