Photo : Pascal Ratthe
It has been almost 21 years since Frank Dancevic was involved in his first Davis Cup tie on home soil. From his debut in 2002 until 2018, including after his transition to team captain, he never went more than two years without playing at home.
But as Team Canada presented by Sobeys returns to Montreal this weekend for the Davis Cup Qualifiers, it has been five years and five months since the men’s national team played at home.
“It’s amazing to be home. We haven’t been here in Canada in such a long time, it’s great to be home,” said Dancevic in his press conference on Tuesday. “It feels warm to have the support from the Canadians. The guys are really excited just to be here and to get that feeling of playing at home. We don’t get that opportunity much.”
Dancevic was a part of Team Canada the last time they played at home back in 2018. The playoff tie in Toronto was his second as team captain (and first as just captain, he was player-captain in their World Group first-round tie earlier in the year).
Ever since, Canada has only played on the road, including road ties in 2019, 2021, and 2022, as well as the “neutral site” Finals every year since 2019 (excluding the COVID-cancelled 2020).
Read also: Meet the Canadian Team Competing in Montreal
During his career, Dancevic played 13 home ties. One of those was in Montreal in 2012, which the captain remembered fondly.
“I have nothing but great memories of the crowds from my playing days to the Davis Cups. We played one time on Centre Court vs South Africa. It’s an amazing place.”
Home-court advantage is an oft-discussed subject in most sports, although it does not factor into tennis as much as some others with a tour that moves around the globe.
But the captain thinks it is something very important to have.
“You get that extra support and sometimes in matches, it’s only one or two per cent that can define the result of the match,” said Dancevic. “And to have that extra crowd support behind you and knowing that you have your country behind you, it gives you that edge.”
“It’s always a joy playing in front of a crowd and knowing you have your country behind you.”
Sizing Up Korea
Canada will meet the Republic of Korea for the second time in Davis Cup competition this weekend. The last time they played, Canada squeaked out a 2-1 win in the Finals group stage in 2022.
On paper, Canada are the favourites as their top two singles players are both higher ranked than the Korean No. 1. But rankings do not seem to matter much in Davis Cup.
And home-court advantage may not be as big a deal as it could be. “With this team in particular, Korea, they also like these conditions. They are used to these conditions too,” explained Dancevic. “I wouldn’t say it’s that much of an advantage court-wise like against a South American team or a team that is used to playing on clay courts or slower surfaces. In this tie, I feel like the level is going to be high from our opponents as well.”
Read also: Meet the Korean Team Competing in Montreal
Dancevic highlighted Soonwoo Kwon, who comes in as the fourth-ranked Korean down at No. 700 in the world. But Kwon is a former Top 100 player with two ATP Tour titles to his name and has caused Canada some trouble in this competition before.
“[Kwon] is a great player, he’s a dangerous player. Obviously, beating Félix [Auger-Aliassime in 2022] is a huge win and he was Top  player so that’s a very high level. He’s playing at a high level. We have to perform versus him, our guys have to play really well to win those matches. It’s not easy.”
Canada knows as well as any country that the rankings do not mean much in this competition from first-hand experience.
As the captain was keen to point out, last year in the Finals group stage both Gabriel Diallo and Alexis Galarneau were ranked outside the Top 100 but defeated Top 40 opponents in straight sets to lead Canada to an upset of the eventual champions Italy.
Looking ahead to this year, with their top two stars playing an ATP 250 event in Europe and some injury question marks, Dancevic is very confident in his lineup.
“We have a lot of depth, a lot of variety. Different styles of players,” explained Dancevic. “We can go through the week, see who is feeling good, who is hitting the ball the best.”
The draw ceremony, where captains have to confirm who is playing, will take place on Thursday.
Tickets are still available for the tie in Montreal. Get your tickets now!