Canada secures Davis Cup World Group berth after defeating Chile in doubles
Canucks qualify for 6th successive elite World Groups
Canada secured its spot in the elite World Group in the Davis Cup on Saturday, handily beating a Chilean men's doubles team that struggled to keep pace with a fast, hard surface.
Captain Martin Laurendeau said the 3-0 sweep in the best of three playoff series was "huge" for the team that faced relegation to the lower Americas Zone Group where they hadn't played since 2011.
The win was even sweeter for doubles partners Vasek Pospisil and Adil Shamasdin. They delivered the final win without stars Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor, who sat out the series because of nagging injuries.
"It's a great relief," Laurendeau said after the two-hour match at the Scotiabank Centre. "I think the guys performed really well under the circumstances. We talked about a couple losses on the team, but the guys had the opportunity to step up and that's what they did."
The 26-year-old Pospisil, from Vancouver, believes wins in the doubles and two singles matches were a good omen for the squad, which went into the series ranked 12th in the world.
"I think it shows how much depth we have on the team," he said. "So it's exciting for the future."
Pospisil along with partner Shamasdin headed off Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, ranked 65th, and Nicolas Jarry (No. 262) in Halifax. The Canadians won 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in straight sets after getting off to a nervous start, but quickly took control of the match.
Hard court advantage
Pospisil and Shamasdin haven't played together extensively, but worked effectively at the net with several smashes and cross-court points.
The Canadians capitalized on their familiarity with the hard surface, something the Chileans acknowledged was a disadvantage in all three matches.
Podlipnik-Castillo said they had a lot of chances, but the speed and accuracy of the serves coming from the Canadians made it challenging to compete at times.
"They were really solid on the serve today and it was really hard to break them," the 28-year-old said. "It was a really fast hard court for everybody."
Still, the Canadians had trouble at times fending off powerful serves by Jarry, a towering player at six feet, six inches and 191 pounds.
Jarry and Podlipnik-Castillo, who represented Chile in doubles at the Rio Olympics, won gold at the Pan Am Games men's doubles last year in Toronto.
Quiet the drums, bells
Immediately after the match, Pospisil said the enthusiasm of the home crowd helped them pull off the win after what has been a tough year for him on the ATP Tour. Much of the noise in the centre, which had many empty seats, came from a small cluster of boisterous fans that included Pospisil's brothers, who chanted loudly throughout the series and routinely had to be told to quiet their drums and bells.
"We're really excited to be back in the World Group," said Pospisil to thunderous applause. "It's huge to do this in front of you guys... we're all really proud."
Pospisil is ranked 12th in the ATP's doubles rankings, while Shamasdin is 70th. Podlipnik-Castillo is ranked 65th and Jarry is No. 262.
The victory comes after Pospisil defeated Jarry 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in singles, in the second of two singles matches Friday.
Pospisil is 120th in the world in singles.
Earlier Friday, veteran Frank Dancevic won 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 against 20-year-old Christian Garin, who is ranked No. 260,
Canada is minus Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Nestor, from Toronto, who are both injured. Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., rounds out the Canadian squad and will play Sunday in one of the reverse singles.
Chile, which sits at No. 23 in the world, and Canada have split their eight previous Davis Cup meetings.