Daniel Nestor and Frank Dancevic completed Canada’s sweep of the Dominican Republic in its Davis Cup tie with a straight-set victory on Saturday in Toronto.
In just one hour and 22 minutes, doubles world No. 3 Nestor and his 25-year-old partner easily dispensed Victor Estrella and Jhonson Garcia 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Combined with Peter Polansky and Milos Raonic’s singles wins on Friday, Canada officially clinches the Americas Zone Group I second round play-off. It earns the right to stay in that second-tier category.
Meanwhile, the Dominican will be forced to return to Group II, the spot they had just escaped this year.
The Caribbean nation had originally scheduled its two young players, 19-year-old Luis Delgado and 20-year-old Jose Hernandez, to play in Saturday’s doubles.
Instead it was Estrella and Garcia, the two veterans of the team, who took to the court in an effort to stay alive in the play-off.
In the end, the switch didn’t make much of a difference.
Compared to Friday, where both Dominican players were losers in long, tough matches, Saturday’s doubles contest was rather anti-climatic.
It looked early like Nestor and Dancevic were easily going to run away with the match. They jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in three easy games.
But Estrella and Garcia played better as the match went on, upping their intensity and displaying solid net play and skill. Several of the games were close.
Still, they never got a sniff at a break, and the Canadians rolled to victory.
Dancevic admits to being more nervous about playing with Nestor than playing against his opponents.
“The hardest thing is playing with Dan [Nestor] because you know most of the balls are going to come to you because the guys are so scared of hitting to him,” he said. “So you know 70 per cent of the balls are going towards you in the matches.”
Nestor, a career golden slam winner in doubles, has been playing Davis Cup now for 18 years. The 38-year-old says he always likes playing for Canada.
“It’s enjoyable for sure,” he said. “We have an opportunity to get back to the World Group next year, we took care of business today. I can’t say it was the most enjoyable Davis Cup experience of my life.
“It was great to play in Toronto where I grew up and the crowd support was pretty good today.”
Next up: world group
With its spot in Group I now secure, Canada can turn its attention to making it back to the World Group, the top echelon of countries who actually play for the Davis Cup.
Canada was last there in 2004, and captain Martin Laurendeau says it has a shot to get back if all the conditions are right, but especially if they can play more ties at home.
“That’s one of the variables really that any team needs,” he said. “To have the depth on the team, but also to have a little bit of a break on the draws and play in front of some home crowds, and control it a bit more, the situation with the court and the balls.
“If you put all that together, you’ve got a good chance at the World Group for sure.”
Despite Canada’s victory, there are still two singles matches to be played on Sunday. But because they’ll have no bearing on the final results, they will be best-of-three sets instead of five.