Exactly two years after the Canadian Davis Cup team defeated Colombia in a World Group Playoff tie in Halifax, it’s déjà vu all over again as it returns attempting to preserve its place in the elite 16 nations for next year against another South American opponent.

Pictured above are captain Martin Laurendeau, Adriano Fuorivia (Denis Shapovalov’s coach) and Daniel Nestor on their way back from a Tuesday practice session at Scotiabank Centre to their harbour-side hotel ahead of the this weekend’s match-up against Chile.

Nestor, 44, was aiming to participate in the 50th Davis Cup tie of his career but he officially announced on Tuesday he will not be able to play because of a grade two tear in his left calf muscle.

So the team, also without Milos Raonic as he works out matters related to the cramping that ended his hopes at the US Open two weeks ago, will consist of No. 120 Vasek Pospisil, No. 236 Frank Dancevic, No. 245 Shapovalov and No. 70-ranked doubles player Adil Shamasdin.

Canada ranks No. 12 in the Davis Cup team rankings to No. 23 for the Chileans and the lifetime head-to-head between the two nations is 4-4 – with Chile winning four times at home on clay while Canada has had all its victories on grass or indoor hard courts.


Indoor hard court is the surface for match-up at the Scotiabank Centre and it should give the hosts a distinct advantage. But while Canada will still be favoured, without the No. 6-ranked Raonic matters may not be quite so straight forward against a visiting team that consists of No. 177-ranked Gonzalo Lama, 23, No. 260-ranked Christian Garin, 20 (pictured above), No. 423-ranked Nicolas Jarry, 20, and 28-year-old Hans Podlipnik-Castillo, who ranks No. 65 in doubles and is No. 372 in singles.

As he walked down George Street on Tuesday evening, captain Laurendeau was asked about the state of mind of his team and replied, “the guys that are here are happy to be here. We had a nice experience in Halifax two years ago and it’s a super arena, a court we really like and fast balls. You have to play very aggressively and we like that. And the last time the crowd was really exceptional so we hope it’ll be the same again.”

davis cup halifax team canada

The main question on most people’s minds centres around who will play No. 2 singles for Canada behind Pospisil on Friday’s opening day. Will it be Dancevic, playing in his 23rd career tie or current Wimbledon junior boys champion Shapovalov (pictured above second from left), who is playing in his first. More to the point, will captain Laurendeau go with the almost 32-year-old Dancevic, who has played more than 30 best-of-five set career matches between Grand Slam events and Davis Cup, or the 17-year-old Shapovalov who has played none?

“It’s a little early in the week to make any decisions, you have to let the players get used to the playing conditions here,” Laurendeau said. “Everybody has been playing outside for several months. It’s indoors here and very fast. So you have to give everyone a chance to adjust and adapt to the conditions – and to see a bit how the Chileans play.

“We’ve still got some good training sessions ahead and we’ll see how the guys deal with them.”

Specifically about Shapovalov having never played a best-of-five set match, and especially if he played on the first day, Laurendeau noted, “there are lots of factors to consider in Davis Cup. It’s obvious we’re comparing apples and oranges – comparing one guy who’s 31 and has played I don’t know how many Davis Cups and another who’s 17 who has never played. But that’s not always exactly how you have to look at it in Davis Cup. There’s more than rankings and more than experience. Sometimes the young ones are on the rise and sort of frisky and fearless. That can be a very dangerous factor with a player. In the end, we have to make the right choice for the whole weekend, not just for Friday. So there’s some tactics to take into consideration and that’s another thing that makes it exciting.”

Asked what he had seen in the Chileans up until now, Laurendeau said, “they’ve been playing a lot of doubles. They’ve been preparing a lot for the doubles.

“They’ve spent time trying to adapt to the conditions here. You can see that there are guys who aren’t that comfortable with how quickly you have to execute – in the same way that we’re not that at ease when we go on clay courts with how slow things are.

“We’re watching them and trying to pick up things. We know some of the players but not all of them. So we’ll watch them in a few more practices before drawing and specific conclusions.”

The 20-year-old Jarry is 6-foot-6. “Yes he has a big serve,” Laurendeau replied when asked the obvious question. “He’s an imposing player and hits the kind of trajectories that work well in the conditions here. He’s a big guy a little in the style of Kevin Anderson – a big serve and he hits pretty flat. I think he’s a better player than his ranking (423) indicates.”

Summing up, Laurendeau said about the scouting by both sides that will continue, “tomorrow (Wednesday) will be an interesting day for the two captains.”


The Chilean captain is Nicolas Massu, the surprise gold medalist in singles and doubles (with Fernando Gonzalez) at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. In the picture above he is on the right with two other team officials checking their phones.

Halifax post card


This chalk drawing on the street just outside the Grande Parade in central Halifax pays homage to The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie.