Canadians to host Colombians in World Group Davis Cup tie
Tennis event takes place in September in undisclosed city
Canada will have home-court advantage in its bid to stay among the world's best tennis countries.
Canada will host Colombia in a Sept. 12-14 tie, with the winner starting Davis Cup play in the World Group next year.
The location of the best-of-five competition has yet to be announced, but hosting the tie is a definite advantage for Canada, says the team captain.
"The number one thing I think we were hoping for was to play at home," Martin Larendeau said Tuesday on a conference call. "We've seen over the last few years when we play at home, our odds increase dramatically."
The United States will host Slovakia in the Davis Cup World Group playoffs on Sept. 12-14. Elsewhere, India hosts Serbia, Brazil hosts Spain, Israel hosts Argentina, Australia hosts Uzbekistan, Netherlands hosts Croatia, and Ukraine hosts Belgium.
The eight winning countries in the playoffs will qualify for the World Group in 2015. The losing teams will compete in zone groups next year.
Canada beat both Spain and Italy indoors in Vancouver last year to reach the semifinals for the first time in history before bowing out to Serbia.
The Davis Cup, founded in 1900, is the touted as the largest annual international team competition in sport with 122 countries participating in 2014.
A tie consists of two singles matches on the first day, a doubles match on Day 2 and concludes with a pair of singles matches on the third day.
The ascension of Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver in men's singles, as well as the work of tireless and decorated doubles veteran Daniel Nestor of Toronto, turned Canada into a consistent Davis Cup threat in recent years.
Canada started this year's Davis Cup in the World Group for a third straight year. Beset by injuries, however, Canada lost 4-1 to Japan in Tokyo in February.
Raonic and Pospisil didn't play at all and Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., retired in the second set of a singles match on the final day because of a stomach injury.
So Japan advanced to the quarter-finals, while Canada must win the playoff versus Colombia to start 2015 in the World Group again.
Canada fell 4-1 to Colombia in Bogota the last time the two countries met in 2010. Because that tie was played on the road, it's Canada's turn to host the South Americans.
Plenty on the line
The Canadians need to leverage a friendly, familiar venue into a victory, lest they drop into Americas Group 1 qualifying matches next year.
"I don't think anybody wants to go back to Group 1, where we would have to face a lot of South Americans teams and away ties and stuff," Larendeau said.
"We have to make the most of this window to play a South American team at home. Everyone is keen on us staying in the World Group.
"Our reference for us is going to be the matches last February and last April when we played at home. I think it's going to bring a lot of good feelings back to play at home and hopefully that will put the guys in a productive frame of mind."
Tennis Canada will announce the location at a later date. Larendeau says he and the athletes will have some input into the location, but not the final say.
"The good thing about playing in September is we have options to play indoors or outdoors. It's something we don't have when we play in February or even April," the Laurendeau said.
"We need the players' feedback to see how they think they're going to match up in altitude, sea level, indoors, outdoors. The players and myself have a bit of a say on where we'd like to play, but it doesn't come down to that.
"There's executive decisions and there's also a marketplace, there's also promoting the game in cities or in areas that are not able to see a lot of tennis. There's a lot of factors that go in, but our job is to come up to the board of directors and president and say 'these are the conditions we'd like to play in and let's work on the venue now."'
Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal are previous Canadian host cities of World Group ties.
Canada is seeded No. 8, while Colombia is ranked No. 26 in Davis Cup. Raonic is currently No. 11 in ATP men's singles and Pospisil is 28th.
Colombia doesn't have a singles player in the world's top 50, but the doubles team of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah is formidable.
That duo lost the final of last month's Sony Open to world No. 1 Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S.
"I think Colombia is a very tough team," Larendeau said. "They have a lot of depth, they have an excellent doubles team and they have a lot of experience in singles play."