OSTEND, Belgium (AP) Belgium has a great chance to reach the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 1999 after Canada came without stalwarts Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.
Raonic, ranked No. 8, and Pospisil, No. 27, are injured, leaving Frank Dancevic, at No. 272, as Canada’s highest-ranked player.
Dancevic, playing Davis Cup for 13 years, will start the quarterfinal on outdoor clay on Friday against Steve Darcis, who won their only previous meeting at 2009 Wimbledon.
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They’re followed by David Goffin, ranked 14th, and Filip Peliwo, 491st, who will make his Davis Cup debut.
Goffin was an emergency substitute in the first round in March, when he was brought in to win the fifth rubber against Switzerland. The defending champion Swiss were without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, but gave Belgium a tougher fight than expected in Liege.
That gives Belgium reason not to underestimate Canada this week.
Goffin, who carried a back injury in the first-round tie, was injury free this time, and expected to be the key man again.
”It’s a big advantage (with David available),” Belgium captain Johan van Herck said. ”He’s a guy who is able to take two points which is a lot when you only need three.
”(I am) very confident. We practiced well, all the players are healthy and playing well, so we’re ready to go.”
The draw on Thursday pitted a doubles on Saturday between Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans, against Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Adil Shamasdin. Coppejans and Shamasdin will play in their first Davis Cup.
On Sunday, Goffin and Dancevic begin the reverse singles, then Darcis and Peliwo.
Belgium and Canada met only once before, in 1913, in a tie Canada won en route to the semifinals, its best effort in Davis Cup.
Belgium is trying to reach the semis for the second time in three years.