Raonic Pulls Out of Davis Cup
RAMAT HASHARON, Israel--It always was a rushed comeback.
So perhaps the stunning decision of Milos Raonic and his advisors that he wasn't fit enough to compete in the critical reverse singles match this morning against Israel's Dudi Sela was simply an acknowledgement that he returned from hip surgery too fast.
Raonic said today he did not, however, re-injure his surgically repaired hip, although he has also withdrawn from a tournament in Metz, France next week.
"Absolutely not," he said. "The hip is completely fine. It's more like everything else has taken a toll on me."
Raonic said today the impact of his 3 1/2 hour match with Amir Weintraub on Friday and the food poisoning he suffered last week have left him feeling under the weather.
"Right now I'm feeling dizziness, almost like a migraine," he said. "I feel unco-ordinated.
"It's like all these little problems now seem so big. I get a little sick, and it seems to make such a big difference. I'm feeling a little slow out there, and suddenly it feels like I can't think the game as I play."
Instead of Raonic against Sela, Canada will put 23-year-old Peter Polansky of North York up against the Israeli in what looms as a gigantic mismatch given Sela's Davis Cup experience and Polansky's lack of both that experience and much playing activity this season.
"Peter is a better choice than me," said Raonic, Canada's ace. "It was a hard decision to make, but you've got to do what's best for the team. Peter has been patiently waiting on the sidelines, and he's eager to play. Definitely, he can close out the tie."
If Polansky can upset Sela, Canada will win the tie against Israel and the fifth rubber, Vasek Pospisil against Weintraub, won't be played. If Sela wins, it will be up to Pospisil to defeat Weintraub and get Canada into the 16-nation World Group for the first time since 2004.
"It's a pretty big match for me," said Polansky before taking the court to practice with Tennis Canada coach Frederic Neimeyer. "I'm excited to be out there."
Polansky, now ranked No. 573 in the world, hasn't played on the ATP tour since losing in the first round at Wimbledon in June. It's a far cry from this time last year when Polansky beat Jurgen Melzer at the Rogers Cup, upset Juan Monaco in the first round at the U.S. Open and was considered a key component in Canada's Davis Cup hopes. But a groin injury suffered at this year's French Open has hampered Polansky from competing very much at all.
Polansky did play four matches at a satellite event in Toronto last week.
"I still feel (the groin injury), but I'm almost 100 per cent," he said. "It's more afterwards."
If Polansky can't actually defeat Sela in the brutal heat, it would at least be very helpful for Pospisil if he can extend the match long enough so that the second match doesn't begin until the sun starts to go down and Canada Stadium court is covered in shade. Israeli observers, meanwhile, were also suggesting Sela is suffering with a injury of his own, a right hamstring problem, worsened by his five-set battle with Pospisil on Friday.
Just over two hours before Raonic's scheduled match against Sela this morning, Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau informed officials that Raonic would not play.
"He's just not quite capable of being out there," said Laurendeau. "Peter is ready to play. Our whole week of training has included this scenario.
"Peter is going in fresh. But keep in mind he's not at the top of his game. He can do it. He can play at this level."
Raonic, dubbed the Maple Leaf Missile, struggled with the heat in a loss to Weintraub on Friday night and woke up sore on Saturday.
He told Laurendeau later in the day that he wouldn't be able to play on Sunday. Raonic said he actually withdrew from the Metz tournament last Thursday and now plans to return to Barcelona for training, then make his return to the tour at an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia later this month.
"I understand I'm not going to peak for the first few tournaments," he said.
Raonic underwent right hip surgery in early July after falling during a second round match at Wimbledon several weeks earlier. While many players stay out as long as 4-5 months after that type of surgery, Raonic was back hitting balls by mid-August and even contemplated trying to enter the U.S. Open later in the month.
Instead, he waited to return in this Davis Cup tie only to play one match.