Canada set to battle Spain at 2013 Davis Cup

Tough foe await Canadians

Canada was paired against Spain in Wednesday’s draw for the opening round of the 2013 Davis Cup World Group.

Canada, ranked No. 12 overall, will host top-ranked Spain from Feb. 1-3 in a best-of-five series of next year’s international team competition.

The venue has yet to be decided, but the likely sites include Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.

Reigning champions Spain, victors of five of the past 12 editions (2000, 2004, 2008, 2000, 2011), features 11 players that are in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) top 100 rankings – including World No. 5 David Ferrer and No. 10 Nicolas Almagro.

Multiple grand-slam winner Rafael Nadal is still inactive with knee problems and his status remains uncertain.

Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau is aware of the anticipated challenge, but sees an opportunity to capitalize on home soil.

“We get to host them in Canada, in front of the home crowd and we will use that to our advantage and are really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Fresh off a 4-1 victory over South Africa in the world group playoffs held in Montreal last weekend, Team Canada will be anchored by big-serving Milos Raonic, doubles veteran Daniel Nestor and world No. 116 Vasek Pospisil.

In head-to-head competitions, Spain and Canada have only played once (1991) with the Spaniards prevailing 4-1 in the world group’s first round.

On paper, this appears to be a David vs. Goliath matchup. The two-headed monster of Ferrer and Almagro, who advanced to the semifinals and quarter-finals of the 2012 U.S. Open, respectively, are backed by No. 30 Marcel Granollers and highly ranked doubles professional Marc Lopez.

Spain, masters on clay courts, has also made noticeable strides on hard court surfaces. Ferrer has made the semifinals on two hard-court grand slams (2011 Australian Open and 2012 U.S. Open). Almagro has made the fourth round in three consecutive Australian Opens and Granollers finished in the third round of the 2011 U.S. Open. Collectively, they own a 38-20 record on hard courts.

Thornhill, Ont., native Raonic has made two fourth-round appearances on hard-court grand slams. Nestor, 40, has won eight doubles grand slams and completed the career slam at Wimbledon in 2008.

Despite being ovevwhelming favourites, Spanish captain Alex Corretja isn’t underestimating his opponent.

“Canada was one of the strongest rivals  we could have gotten, not only for the quality of a team led by Milos Raonic but because we’ll have to play a visiting team one week after the Australian Open, which means another long trip and time change.”

World Group Draw:

Canada v Spain

Italy v Croatia

Belgium v Serbia

USA v Brazil

France v Israel

Argentina v Germany

Kazakhstan v Austria

Switzerland v Czech Republic