Canada names Davis Cup team for matches in France

Milos Raonic at the Australian Open. (Vincent Thian/AP)

TORONTO — Milos Raonic is on the roster for Canada’s Davis Cup matchup against France. Whether he’ll be physically ready to play in the March 4-6 World Group first-round tie remains up in the air.

Raonic recently resumed on-court training after taking a few weeks off due to a slightly torn adductor muscle. He won the Brisbane International tournament in January and followed that up with a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open.

However, he was clearly hampered by the right hip injury in the latter stages of his five-set loss to Andy Murray and hasn’t played a competitive match since.

"He’s been able to hit the court, obviously with limited movement," Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said Tuesday on a conference call. "He’s been able to go back on court and slowly work his way back into shape. So there is progress, unfortunately he’s had to pull out of the last two tournaments. But he’s healthier than he was a few weeks ago and he’s able to run and hit.

"For now, it’s just a day to day, slow, incremental improvement that he’s looking forward to happening."

If healthy, Raonic will be expected to anchor the Canadian team in singles play on the clay-court surface at Velodrome Amedee Detraux. Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil were also named to the roster Tuesday along with doubles specialist Daniel Nestor of Toronto.

Filip Peliwo of Vancouver and Adil Shamasdin of Toronto will also travel as part of an extended squad of players.

Host France selected a strong squad of four top-20 singles players in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 9), Richard Gasquet (No. 10), Gael Monfils (No. 17) and Gilles Simon (No. 19). Raonic is the top-ranked Canadian at No. 13, followed by Pospisil at No. 45 and Dancevic at No. 245.

Two singles matches are set for opening day on March 4. The doubles match goes the next day and the tie wraps up March 6 with reverse singles.

Laurendeau said he’ll have a better idea of who he will use in the matches once the team arrives in France.

"It’s all going to depend whether (Raonic) can play through it or not," he said. "We certainly don’t want him to aggravate or to re-injure something that’s going to set him back several months. He’s missed a lot of tennis lately so there’s going to be a lot of consultation and observation that will need to be done there in Guadeloupe."

Raonic said earlier this month that his body had a hard time adjusting to the grind of 10 competitive matches last January after he played a limited schedule in 2015 due to injuries. Despite the hip issue, he still played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Feb. 12 in Toronto and even managed a slam dunk.

Laurendeau noted that the movement requirements for elite-level tennis are much different than the slow pace of a celebrity basketball game.

"He knows his body. He’s not 17 or 18, he’s 25," Laurendeau said. "He knows his body the most and he knows what he can do and cannot do. Being the professional that he is, I’m sure he’s doing everything to move whichever way he can for what’s required in the sport. He wants this to be perfect."

Raonic has been strong in Davis Cup play, going 11-2 in singles since Canada returned to the elite 16-team World Group in 2012.

France holds a 2-0 record against Canada in Davis Cup play and won their most recent meeting four years ago in Vancouver.

This is Nestor’s 24th year playing in Davis Cup. He holds numerous Canadian records including most Davis Cup wins (47), doubles victories (32), and ties played (49).

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