OSIJEK, Croatia – On Thursday, Vasek Pospisil said he wasn’t quite ready to open Friday’s Davis Cup. Peter Polansky said he was.
Less than 24 hours later, the tables have turned.
Pospisil will now face World No. 47 Borna Coric in the first match of the World Group showdown (8 a.m. ET on Sportsnet) after an MRI showed a bone bruise and tendinopathy in Polansky’s right elbow. Polansky, who ironically beat Pospisil in the first round of Rogers Cup last summer, was feeling the most pain in that elbow while serving and it hadn’t been responding to treatment, which is why the imaging exam was ordered.
Tendinopathy is effectively damage to the tendon that attaches muscle to the bone, which is what caused Polansky the pain.
Pospisil, now with a ranking of 85 on tour, won a challenger title last week in France on a hard court. He arrived in Osijek on Monday night, but woke up Tuesday morning in a cold sweat, dealing with a 24-hour virus. The original plan to sit him today was to save his energy levels for doubles on Saturday, and perhaps a deciding singles match on Sunday – and also give Pospisil more time to adapt to the indoor clay here. Pospisil has not won a match on the red dirt since 2013.
“Clay is the toughest surface for me to get used to,” Pospisil said Thursday, admitting that the competition being played on the clay played “a big role” in the original decision to have him sit the opening day of Davis Cup.
But then came Polansky’s elbow issue and Pospisil gets thrust into the first match against Coric, who he has never faced before on tour.
“I’m relying on confidence. I’m playing well,” Pospisil said. “You try to gather your experience. I’ve played Davis Cup for a while now, to help me, some tricks up my sleeve to rely on when the time comes.”
New Canadian Davis Cup captain Frank Dancevic said it will be important for Pospisil to manage – and conserve – energy in the match against Coric, who grew up playing on clay courts.
“We can’t make it a physical match,” Dancevic said Friday, after Pospisil warmed up inside Sportska Dvorana Graski Vrt Arena. “We can’t waste energy for no reason.”
Denis Shapovalov, Canada’s top singles player this weekend, meets Viktor Galovic in Friday’s second match. The Croatians are saving World No. 3 Marin Cilic for the weekend. Cilic arrived in Osijek on Wednesday, after a run to the Australian Open finals, and admitted yesterday he was still dealing with jet lag and adjusting his body to the clay courts.