Vasek Pospisil ready for Rogers Cup challenge
Canadian prepares for Davis Cup
Vasek Pospisil would have no trouble filling a scrapbook — or an online photo album — featuring his accomplishments this year.
The Canadian tennis star has been piling up memories, but he still has a chance for more unforgettable moments between now and the end of September.
Pospisil will compete in the Rogers Cup in Montreal next week as he continues to tune up his game in preparation for Canada's historic Davis Cup semifinal against Serbia in Belgrade in September.
"I'm hoping to get a lot of matches here this week and confidence to build for the Rogers Cup," said Pospisil, who is playing in the Odlum Brown VanOpen, a United States Tennis Association event, in West Vancouver before he heads to Montreal.
"It's obviously a very exciting next couple of months for me."
Pospisil, a 23-year-old Vernon, B.C., native who now calls Vancouver home, will head into the Rogers Cup looking to build on a season in which he has helped Canada reach unprecedented heights on the international stage.
Canada earned a berth in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time ever with its quarter-final win over Italy in Vancouver in April. The quarter-final berth was Canada's first in the Davis Cup's modern era, resulting from a win over Spain's injury-riddled world No. 1 squad in February, also in Vancouver.
"(The Rogers Cup) is going to be a good experience," he said. "Obviously, any big tournament that you play in is good for gaining experience for a tie as important as we have in September. I've played in the Rogers Cup a few times now, so it's not going to be new territory for me."
Prepares for Davis Cup
Pospisil is a candidate for Davis Cup singles and doubles selection. He and Daniel Nestor teamed up for a crucial five-set doubles victory against Italy that set the stage for Milos Raonic's singles victory that enabled Canada to advance.
"Davis Cup is probably the most memorable experience I've had in my career at the moment," said Pospisil. "To play for your country and one another is huge, especially for Canada having clinched past this first round. Other than that, I'd say it's more just being consistent up there in the ATP events, which I struggled with a little bit last year.
"It was my first year playing major (international tournaments), and this year, I'm feeling much more comfortable. So, for me, it's just a good year in terms of getting comfortable out there and playing against the top players."
Pospisil has gained the greater comfort while working with new coach Frederic Fontang of France, a former ATP player. Fontang has helped Pospisil improve on playing the game at a higher speed and using more aggression to avoid long rallies and earn points quicker.
"I honestly can't say enough good things about him," said Pospisil. "He's an incredible coach. He knows what he's doing. His knowledge of the sport is incredible. He takes that knowledge with me and shares it with me, and helps me perform. He has a lot of experience.
"He's done a good job with me. Honestly, every week, I'm learning something new."
In mid-July, Pospisil used his increased knowledge to reach an ATP tour semifinal for the first time, in Bogota, Colombia before falling in three sets to Alejandro Falla.
The strong showing enabled him to move up in the ATP rankings to No. 89 and move within range of his career-best No. 85 spot, reached last year.
Jesse Levine also in Montreal
But Pospisil is not the only Canadian Davis Cup team member who will use the Rogers Cup to prepare for the battle with Serbia. Jesse Levine, an Ottawa native who grew up in the U.S. and obtained permission to play for Canada earlier this year, will also compete in Montreal, playing doubles with Pospisil as well as singles.
"We've played really well together," said Pospisil.
Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., will also compete at the Rogers Cup after gaining a wild-card entry into the main draw. Dancevic, 28, played a key role in helping Canada get past Spain in February, as he upset heavily-favoured Marcel Granollers in opening-night singles action.
But Dancevic, 28, was forced to sit out the tie against Italy due to a knee injury. As a result, Levine took his place while he watched Canada gain glory from the sidelines.
"Actually, it was my choice," said Dancevic. "I felt like it was time to put the team ahead of yourself. I just felt I knew I wasn't 100 per cent. It's better to give somebody else the opportunity, who's 100 per cent, especially in an important tie like that.
"I don't think there's any room for error. I think guys should be really honest with how they feel the weeks of Davis Cup. If there's somebody healthy behind you and you're not 100 per cent, you've got to put your ego aside and think about the country and think about how far we've gotten and put somebody else on the line, and that's what I did."
Now that he is healthier, he is looking forward to a chance to represent Canada in Serbia, which is led by one of the world's top players, Novak Djokovic.
But Dancevic still must earn selection from captain Martin Laurendeau.
"You grow up wanting to play for your country," said Dancevic. "I've always loved playing for Canada. I've had great memories playing Davis Cup. I've had really great wins, really bad losses, cried for my country and celebrated. I've been through it all in the last 10 years. It's pretty intense. It'll be great if I'm selected. I'll be really happy."
Dancevic might have helped his cause by beating up-and-comer Filip Peliwo, 19, of North Vancouver, B.C., in the opening round of this week's tournament in West Vancouver.
It was Dancevic's second victory over Peliwo, a frequent practice partner, in recent weeks. But Dancevic is not placing too much stock in results before the time comes for the Davis Cup lineup to be named.
"There's still a long way to go before the Davis Cup," said Dancevic. "Basically, I just do my thing."
Notes: Peliwo will also head to Montreal for the Rogers Cup, but must get through qualifying rounds.