Canada take control with Davis Cup doubles win
Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil outlasted Japan\’s Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama in five sets to put Canada one point from victory in their Davis Cup tie.
Nestor and Pospisil downed Soeda and Uchiyama 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five World Group first-round tie.
That means 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori, ranked fourth in the world, will be fighting to keep Japan alive when he takes on world number six Milos Raonic in Sunday\’s first reverse singles match.
Nestor and Pospisil, ranked fifth and 15th in the world in doubles, were heavy favorites, but Soeda and Uchiyama pushed them hard.
The Canadians squeaked out the first set, breaking the Japanese in the 12th game on Nestor\’s backhand volley winner.
Soeda and Uchiyama roared back, racing to a 5-1 lead in the second with two service breaks. The Canadians saved two set points against Nestor\’s serve to make it 5-2 before Uchiyama\’s forehand winner sealed it in the next game.
Nestor and Pospisil regrouped quickly, racing to a 3-0 lead en route to the third-set win, only for Soeda and Uchiyama to grab the momentum in the fourth.
"It was a little bit of a rollercoaster match and the atmosphere was incredible," Pospisil said.
"We used the crowd really well when we needed to, especially in the fifth set. It kind of saved the energy a bit for the end of the fifth because you know can you suddenly pounce on them and the crowd will get on top of them in tight moments in the match and it paid off."
The fifth was a tightly contested affair, with no breaks until the eighth game when the visitors blinked and Soeda served up a double-fault on break point.
Pospisil then held at love to secure the triumph.
"It was 4-3 in the fifth and we got hot a little bit and connected," Nestor said.
"I guess it was the first time they felt their back against the wall in a while. But it was more us putting pressure on them and they didn\’t really fold," he added. "It was one point where they double faulted, but other than that I thought we played good points in that game."
Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said he hoped the 2-1 lead would ease the pressure on Raonic against Nishikori, who has won four of their six meetings.
"Everyone would rather be up 2-1 than down 2-1," Laurendeau said.
Raonic and Nishikori both won on Friday to set themselves up for the marquee clash.
Raonic overpowered 85th-ranked Tatsuma Ito 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, while Nishikori defeated Pospisil 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
If Nishikori prevails, Pospisil will take on Ito in the final singles rubber to decide the tie.
Canada are out for a bit of Davis Cup revenge against Japan.
The Canadians rolled to the 2013 Davis Cup semi-finals before falling to Serbia at Belgrade but last year lost 4-1 to Japan at Tokyo, falling to 0-6 all-time against Japan in Davis Cup play.
Beating Canada last year launched Japan into the second round of the World Group for the first time, but with Nishikori injured and absent in the quarter-finals, they were hammered 5-0 by then-defending champion Czech Republic.
The winner of the tie will face either defending champion Switzerland or Belgium in the quarter-finals in July.
Belgium were 2-1 up on the Swiss in Liege heading into Sunday.