Canada and Italy in the World Group quarterfinals. Who saw this coming?
History has not been kind to these two countries in Davis Cup play. Italy notched its first World Group victory in 15 years after beating Croatia in early February while Canada is making its first World Group quarterfinals appearance ever.
But before you get comfortable on your couch to watch this weekend’s Davis Cup quarterfinal between Italy and Canada on Sportsnet, here’s a little cheat sheet to help you along.
Milos Raonic Age: 22 Current ATP singles ranking: 16 Highest ATP singles ranking: 13 (2012) ATP titles: 4 (singles)
Don’t know who Milos Raonic is? Well good for you for reading this cheat sheet! Raonic is the top ranked Canadian singles player in history and the future of not only Canadian tennis, but also the ATP tour. In the first round against Spain, Raonic won both of his singles matches to secure Canada’s spot in the quarterfinals. It’s no secret as to why Canada is hosting the quarterfinals on the fast, indoor hard courts as Raonic’s game thrives in those conditions.
Vasek Pospisil Age: 22 Current ATP singles ranking: 140 Highest ATP singles ranking: 85 (2012) ATP titles: 0
Vasek Pospisil is a stronger doubles player than he is singles player. Pospisil and Canadian partner Daniel Nestor have gotten comfortable playing together, but they lost their doubles match against Spain in the World Group first round. At times, Pospisil shows strengths as a singles player like in September 2011, winning all three of his matches against Israel in Davis Cup play.
Daniel Nestor Age: 40 Current ATP doubles ranking: 6 Highest ATP doubles ranking: 1 ATP titles: 80 (doubles)
Daniel Nestor is ‘the man’ of Canadian tennis, although he’ll never admit it. Nestor is a quiet, modest champion but he’s one of, if not, the greatest doubles player of all time. Nestor has been playing on tour since Pospisl and Raonic were less than a year old and while he’s obviously nearing the end of his career, he’s a dependable piece for Team Canada.
Frank Dancevic Age: 28 Current ATP singles ranking: 198 Highest ATP singles ranking: 65 (2007) ATP titles: 0
At the 2007 Rogers Cup in Montreal, Frank Dancevic was Canada’s golden boy, playing on centre court in front of a crowd of cheering Canucks. Dancevic’s moment in the spotlight was brief, until this past February when he embarrassed Marcel Granollers in straight sets to give Canada a commanding 2-0 lead against Spain. No, Dancevic can’t be expected to play like that every match, but why not make it a tradition in Vancouver.
Current ATP Singles Ranking: 18
Highest ATP Singles Ranking: 18
ATP Titles: 3 (singles)
A veteran on the ATP tour, Andrea Seppi turned pro in 2002, but he has only recently found title success. In the past two years, Seppi has won all of his three ATP singles titles. Against Croatia, Seppi struggled in his straight-set loss to Marin Cilic but beat Ivan Dodig in four sets. Seppi’s known for his powerful forehand and although he’s had success on the clay courts, he’s also quite comfortable on the hard courts.
Fabio Fognini Age: 25 Current ATP singles ranking: 31 Highest ATP singles ranking: 31 ATP titles: 2 (doubles)
If Fabio Fognini plays hero in the Davis Cup quarterfinal against Canada, it will be because of he and his doubles partner, Simone Bolelli. Just this year Fognini and Bolelli won the Buenos Aires title and reached the Acapulco final. Against Croatia in the Davis Cup first round, Fognini beat Dodig in singles and won his doubles match with Bolelli against Cilic and Dodig. If Italy wants to beat Canada, Fognini needs to play his best, but he’s more comfortable on the clay courts than he will be on the indoor hard courts of Vancouver.
Simone Bolelli Age: 27 Current ATP singles ranking: 79 Highest ATP singles ranking: 36 (2009) ATP titles: 3 (doubles)
Bolelli is a utility man on Italy’s roster. He can play doubles, he can play singles and he can win both. He’s ranked in the top 100 for both singles and doubles in the ATP. In last weeks’ Miami Masters event, Bolelli was forced to retire in his match against Grigor Dimitrov due to a wrist injury and while he’ll be ready to go against Canada on the weekend, he may not be 100 per cent.
Paolo Lorenzi Age: 31 Current ATP singles ranking: 57 Highest ATP singles ranking: 49 (2013) ATP titles: 1 (doubles)
Paolo Lorenzi is Italy’s benchwarmer. On the ATP tour, Lorenzi rarely advances past the round of 32, but he has done well on the outdoor clay courts. Against Croatia in the World Group first round, Lorenzi lost his singles match against Cilic.