Raonic to pull out of Davis Cup tie vs Japan

With Milos Raonic dropping out of the Davis Cup, what was once an event for the Canadians to dominate is now more of a question mark.

TOKYO — Milos Raonic, the world’s No. 11 ranked tennis player who has been part of Canada’s rise on the Davis Cup stage, will be pulling out of this weekend’s World Group tie against Japan, Sportsnet has learned.

Raonic will withdraw from the competition in Tokyo due to a nagging ankle injury he suffered at the Australian Open.

Canada is already shorthanded, with Vasek Pospisil dealing with a bad back (that forced him to leave Melbourne in the third round). With Raonic’s exit, Frank Dancevic will be elevated as Canada’s top singles player for Friday’s singles double-header. Peter Polansky, brought over as a hitting partner originally, will face Japan’s top player, Kei Nishikori, on the opening day of the event.

Pospisil would be eligible to play singles Sunday, but for now will be listed in Saturday’s doubles match.

The Canadians had to make a decision by 9:30 a.m. Tokyo time Thursday (7:30 p.m. EST Wednesday) on their final team roster. Sources said Raonic went to the tennis arena to try his ankle one last time earlier this morning, but felt it wouldn’t be able to handle the ‎rigours of a best three-of-five match.

Raonic downplayed his ankle issue for most of the week, even after cutting his practice session short on Tuesday. He hit for only 10 minutes that day before going to get treatment.

“The ankle is okay as of now. I’m just taking care of it,” he told Sportsnet in a sit-down interview that evening. “I think about it because I do have some discomfort with it. At this point, it’s not a major concern.”

Some 40 hours later it became a big one, and he will not be available for Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau.

The official Davis Cup draw will be held Thursday in Tokyo (Wednesday evening in Canada). More details will be revealed then.

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