In the lead-up to this weekend’s Canada – Colombia Davis Cup World Group Playoff, things have been about as calm as the two sailboats in Halifax harbour on Tuesday evening.

Essentially, the news is that there is no news.

Both teams appear to be fit and everyone should be available if called upon. That’s particularly good news for Canada after the debacle in Tokyo last February when top singles players Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil were injured and couldn’t play, and No. 3 Frank Dancevic got hurt and had to retire after one set of the fourth match against Kei Nishikori.

In order to try to stir up something, I asked Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau (on right above) if there was any chance that his opposite number, Colombian captain Mauricio Hadad, might pull a fast one and include Alejandro Gonzalez on the team. That way, if he replaced No. 1 player Santiago Giraldo on the first day, Colombian No. 2 Alejandro Falla would become No. 1 and get to play Vasek Pospisil, the Canadian No. 2. Falla is 1-0 against Pospisil, having beaten him 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals in Bogota in the summer of 2013.

But substituting Gonzalez is improbable because it would mean leaving off one of the two established Colombian doubles team members, Robert Farah or Juan-Sebastian Cabal (above).

“The four players on each team were announced 10 days ago,” Laurendeau said about the Davis Cup protocol. “They (the Colombians) have until one hour before the draw to make up to two substitutions.”

He doesn’t expect any hanky-panky, like substituting the No. 90-ranked Gonzalez. “I don’t see how they would benefit from that,” Laurendeau said. “I haven’t heard of any of their guys being injured on the practice court.”

As for his team, it appears unlikely that Dancevic will see action – it should be Raonic and Pospisil in singles and Pospisil and Daniel Nestor in doubles. 

“We’ll see…if anyone eats bad oysters tonight,” Laurendeau joked.

More seriously he added, “everybody’s doing well, playing well and healthy.”

Wednesday was a day when many of the final touches were being done at the Metro Centre, including the crew building the television platform at one end of the arena.

On the court bright and early, Vasek Pospisil practiced with Jesse Levine (a lefthander as is Pospisil’s anticipated opponent, Falla, in the opening singles).

They were followed by Raonic hitting and playing a set, which went to a tiebreak, with Dancevic.

The Colombians took to the court after Raonic and Dancevic, with Falla hitting solo on one side against doubles partners Farah and Cabal.

There’s usually a fair amount of cordiality between the teams in Davis Cup and that can be seen above as Raonic shakes hands with Cabal when the teams exchanged the court.

There are a pair of Colombian reporters, Mariana and David, in Halifax. They will be doing live broadcasts to their home country once the tie begins on Friday.

On Wednesday, they recorded an interview with Falla.

Raonic also accorded some time to both the foreign and local media.

Paul Brothers from the Global morning show in Halifax had a little fun with the Canadian No. 1. He used the phrase “believe in the sleeve, swear by the hair” in talking with Raonic, who mildly objected to the use of the word “coiffed” with regards to his current haircut.

Brothers had a series of amusing questions for Raonic, including about the sleeve. He also asked for some fashion tips for both himself and his cameraman.

Obviously prepared, Brothers pointed out that he had worn his New Balance kicks, which would please Raonic, who is the face of the brand.

Raonic, above watched by captain Laurendeau and coach Guillaume Marx, and Pospisil will be playing in their tenth Davis Cup ties. Nestor, an ageless 42 years old, will be playing in his 47th.

When Nestor arrives at a Davis Cup practice session, everyone notices.

On Wednesday, he shared a few gibes with Colombia’s Farah after he had been throwing a football with practice partner Brayden Schnur and also kicking around a soccer ball. This inevitably led to some boyish shenanigans, a little tussle (below) with doubles hitting partner Adil Shamasdin.

Of course it was all in fun, and soon Nestor was across the court from Shamasdin and Dancevic for a doubles workout.

On Thursday, with the draw ceremony midday, the line-up for the weekend will come into sharper focus for both teams. The Colombians (above Giraldo by the net and Gonzalez standing right) will almost surely go with veterans Giraldo, 26 and ranked No. 33, and Falla, 30 and ranked No. 70. Falla is playing in his 26thtie for his country, Giraldo in his 18th.

Canada and captain Laurendeau will be counting on Raonic for two singles wins. He is 11-4 in singles in his Davis Cup career – but actually 11-2 if his first tie in Colombia in 2010 is not included. Head-to-head, he is 2-1 vs. Giraldo (only loss in 2010) and 2-0 vs. Falla.

Pospisil is 1-0 vs. Giraldo – a 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 win the Washington quarter-finals this summer – and 0-1 vs. Falla. That was that semifinal in Bogota in July 2013. 

Finally, no comprehensive Canadian Davis Cup report would be complete without a picture of Frank Dancevic’s latest haircut – take a look at his new shorn look above.    


Nothing is sacred for pigeons, and certainly not for this one perched on a statue in central Halifax on Tuesday.