Milos Raonic will play for his country.
But his career comes first. His health, as well.
The good thing is that while you may agree or disagree with the tennis star's priorities, at least they are now crystal clear.
UPDATE: Raonic will get a chance at his third career title on Sunday in San Jose after hammering Ryan Harrison of the U.S. today in the semifinals of the SAP Open. This is where Raonic captured his first ATP title last year, and after his 7-6, 6-2 triumph today over Harrison, he'll face either Julien Benneteau of France - who he trounced in three sets in Davis Cup action last weekend - or Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the final.
Raonic pounded out another 20 aces today against Harrison, who had beaten Raonic in their only previous meeting in Indian Wells last year.
Raonic has fallen to No. 32 in the world despite winning in Chennai this year and getting to the third round of the Australian Open. Defending these ATP points in San Jose with at the very least an appearance in the final will go a long way to improving his ranking.
So he's healthy. That, naturally, will cause some to smart, or at least question why Raonic coudn't play on Sunday but he was fine on Wednesday. As a country that has had this patriotic debate many times with many different athletes - Mario Lemieux, Greg Rusedski, Owen Hargreaves, Lennox Lewis, Ray Bourque, Steve Nash etc., etc. - this one will conjure up similar heated opinions.
Clearly, Raonic could have played in the do-or-die fourth rubber against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He could have gritted his teeth, played through the pain and put it all on the line.
He didn't. He let Frank Dancevic play instead, undoubtedly disappointing to Tennis Canada execs.
We all would have liked him to play. In that way, not playing was a very mature decision. He could have given in to the pressure and played, and in so doing jeopardized his ability to play in San Jose this week and beyond.
But after missing fourth months of competition - and paycheques - last year, he doesn't want to go through that again.
In fact, Raonic told Tennis.com that had it not been for a misdiagnosis after an MRI, he would have played against Tsonga.
“After we lost to (The French in doubles on Saturday) I went to have an echography [in Vancouver] and I was told I had four-millimeter tear in the tendon and it was month-long recovery," he said. "I was told that if I played on Sunday it could completely snap and I’d be out for eight to 12 months. So it was a no-brainer not to play. So I spoke to my doctor in Spain and I came here because I knew the services were really good at the Stanford Medical Clinic. I did an MRI and I was told it was just misplaced fluid instead of a tear and it was just showing tendonitis and I could play through, it won’t get any worse. It was little a disheartening because I was in the dark and I wish I could have played. If I knew I wasn’t taking a risk, I would have played Tsonga. I was sore, but I knew if I could take a pain killer, I could probably have played through the pain."
So let's not paint this kid as an ingrate. He has answered the bell for Davis Cup a number of times, and even came back a little early from hip surgery last September to play in a Davis Cup tie against Israel. He'll almost certainly play for Canada this summer in the London Olympics.
It's not that he won't play for Canada. It's just going to have to be on his terms, and as long as Canadian tennis suffers from a lack of depth and Raonic remains far and away our best player, he's calling the shots.
He has a good working relationship with Tennis Canada, but he brings his own coach - Galo Blanco - and his own agent - Graham Cross - with him when he competes for Canada. It's a different setup than other sports, but tennis is different. These players are independent contractors who give up their time in the middle of grinding tour schedule to play, and there's just no point slagging them when they make other choices.
He's by far the best player this country has produced, and he has worn the country's colours in Davis Cup competition three times in the past 14 months, travelling from Mexico to Israel to Vancouver to play for Tennis Canada.
At the same time, he's trying to progress in the ATP world rankings, and there are more than a few who would rather see him become a top 10 player and win a Grand Slam rather than help Canada become a better Davis Cup country.
He's got his priorities. Maybe you wish they were different, that he'd play for Canada even if it jeopardized his career. But at least there's no confusion.