TSN Tennis Davis Cup - Tennis Review

TSN Tennis Davis Cup

Milos RaonicVANCOUVER - Martin Laurendeau's men were at a significant disadvantage the last time Canada met Japan in Davis Cup tennis.

With both Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil out injured, the overmatched Canadians fell 4-1 in Tokyo thanks in large part to the dominance of Kei Nishikori.

But a full roster and a home crowd has Laurendeau hoping for a much different result when the two countries meet for another best-of-five series in World Group first-round play at the University of British Columbia.

"All our guys are healthy, " the Canadian captain said after Thursday's draw. "They're all playing well."

Canada beat Spain and Italy at the 5, 000-seat Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre back in the 2013 competition, making it all the way to the semfinals.

"The fans have been fantastic here in Vancouver, " added Laurendeau. "It's one of the reasons we're back. We can count on them. They do make a difference and this court suits our big-hitting servers."

Ranked sixth in the world, Raonic will kick things off Friday in the first singles match against No. 85 Tatsuma Ito, before Pospisil faces a tough test in Nishikori, who is fourth on the ATP Tour.

"I know I'm going to have my hands full. I'm definitely the underdog, there's no doubt about that, " said 24-year-old Pospisil, who is ranked 62nd and will be playing in front of his hometown fans. "At the same time I do think I can win.

"It's going to be a tough, tough task, but I can do it."

Pospisil and Toronto's Daniel Nestor will team up against Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama in Saturday's doubles match before the tie returns to singles action on Sunday with Raonic versus Nishikori followed by Pospisil against Ito.

Teams can substitute players in and out up to an hour before matches, and Laurendeau said he fully expects Nishikori to play in the doubles match, something he did when Japan beat Canada at the same stage of the competition 13 months ago.

"You've got to go with your best players. If you want to win this tie or this Davis Cup, you go with your best assets, and they've got to get the job done, " said Laurendeau, who has Pospisil slated for three matches as well. "It's a tough assignment, but they've done it before. They look forward to these kind of weekends."

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