Canadian Tennis Stunner
VANCOUVER--What shaped up as a huge day for Canadian tennis has been destroyed.
With a national TV audience anticipating a significant Davis Cup match today between Canada's Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the Canadian team was hit with the shocking news today that Raonic has withdrawn with an apparent knee injury.
Raonic had his left knee taped all week and said it was an ongoing issue with a bone in his knee that was causing muscle problems. It wasn't an issue in Friday's singles match in which Raonic hammered France's Julien Benneteau or in the doubles on Saturday when the French team of Benneteau and Michael Llodra easily defeated Raonic and Daniel Nestor.
Raonic hasn't yet commented publicly, but apparently the knee flared up overnight and the Raonic team, which includes Spanish coach Galo Blanco and U.S.-based agent Graham Cross, announced that the 21-year-old from Thornhill wouldn't be able to face Tsonga, ranked No. 6 in the world.
"It was for his own best interests not to play," said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. "He's been taped up for a while. The guys learn to play with their injuries."
Raonic will be replaced by Frank Dancevic against Tsonga, with France needing just one more match victory to advance to the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals. If Dancevic, booted off the team last fall, can somehow manage one of the biggest upsets in modern tennis history, Canada's Vasek Pospisil would then face Gael Monfils in the final and deciding match.
Presumably, Raonic will now be forced to pull out of the ATP event in San Jose this week, a tournament he won last year for his first tour win.
In the past 10 months, Raonic has struggled to stay healthy. He retired from a semifinal match in Estoril, Portugal, fell and injured his hip at Wimbledon, withdrew from the reverse Davis Cup singles against Israel in September because of the flu as he came back from hip surgery and then this weekend's startling withdrawal.
Dancevic, meanwhile, hasn't played Davis Cup for Canada since blowing a two-sets-to-love lead against world No. 439 Daniel Garza of Mexico last year. By late summer, he found himself in a dispute with Tennis Canada over playing Davis Cup and not getting a wild card into the Rogers Cup last summer.
It was assumed his Davis Cup career was over, but Laurendeau reached out to the 27-year-old Dancevic a couple of months ago and convinced him to return to the fold.