By Mike McIntyre
No disrespect to Frank Dancevic or Filip Peliwo, but they are no Milos and Vasek. Asking two players ranked 272nd and 491st respectively in the ATP rankings to win against much more talented and consistent opponents was likely never a realistic prospect. With Dancevic nearing the final years of his professional tennis career and Peliwo still just getting his started it was a tough position for both of them to be in today against Belgium.
Dancevic used to be Canada's go-to singles player. With a career high ranking of 65th in the world back in 2007, Dancevic's sharp serving and keen instincts at the net made Canadian tennis fans hopeful that perhaps he could crack into the top 40 in the world. Since then injuries and inconsistencies have plagued the now 30 year old and his 2015 season has not produced much to write home about. Dancevic is 0-2 in main draw ATP events, 7-5 in ATP qualifying and a mediocre 10-10 at the challenger level. While as recently as a couple of years ago I would have given Frank a good shot at Steve Darcis, there was very little chance of him winning that match as things currently stand. And that's a problem for Team Canada who really needed Frank the Tank to show up today and steal one as he did two years ago vs Marcel Granollers of Spain. Instead Darcis, ranked 76th in the world, would take the match 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.
Peliwo was brought along to Belgium I'm assuming because a) it would be a great experience for the former junior star and b) Belgium probably didn't know a whole lot about him. Three years removed from winning the Junior Wimbledon crown and Peliwo's rise in the professional ranks has so far been a slow one. It must be tough when he looks at the early career success of Eugenie Bouchard but hopefully Peliwo isn't putting too much pressure on himself to develop at the same rate. Look at the hiccup in Bouchard's career in 2015 and perhaps taking a slower development path isn't such a bad idea for Peliwo. So far this year has seen some success for the 21 year old in the depths of the minor league's of tennis - aka Futures Events. There he has amassed a 15-8 record along with one tournament victory. At the Challenger level Peliwo is 0-2 in main draw event's and 4-3 in qualifying. He has yet to play in any main draw ATP events in 2015 and therefore his match today against world number 14 David Goffin must have seemed like quite the daunting task. Yet Peliwo hung in there for two sets before the more experienced (by three years) Goffin prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Now Tennis Canada turns to its long standing stalwart in Daniel Nestor, who at the ripe old age of 42 will partner with Davis Cup rookie and comparative youngster at the age of 32, Adil Shamasdin. Ranked 65th in doubles makes Shamasdin a capable partner for Nestor who has seen his own ranking fall to 24th in the world. The two are currently supposed to face the duo of Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans. The match would essentially be a throw-away for the Belgians who would prefer to rest Goffin and Darcis for reverse singles on Sunday where they only require one win. Still, there is the outside chance that Goffin could be subbed-in for Coppejans at the last minute if the Belgians feel there is a legitimate chance they could close out the tie in three straight matches.
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Canada will be hard pressed to take one, let alone two, singles matches on Sunday. While tennis fans in Canada love to say, "Anything is Pospisil" I don't think that line applies when you're missing Milos and Vasek. If things play out according to predictions there is certainly no shame for the severely depleted Canadian line-up who gave their best effort on Day 1. They will still remain a fixture in the World Group of Davis Cup and with a healthy roster in 2016 should be expected once more to compete for their first ever Davis Cup Championship.