Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau says home is where the heart is.
He's hoping a return to Vancouver for the second time in a year will enable his team to show its heart - and talent - against powerhouse Spain in a World Group first-round tie February 1-3.
Tennis Canada announced Monday that the national team will return to the city that hosted the country's World Group first-round tie versus France earlier this year. Vancouver won a bid process that included cities such as Victoria, Calgary and Winnipeg.
"For us, the important thing is to play at home," said Laurendeau, following a news conference at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre at UBC, where the matches will again be played. "It's not fun to play away. It's always more complicated, so we're just relieved, really, to play indoor tennis against a team we feel we can take on, for sure."
Canada, currently No. 12 in the Davis Cup rankings, maintained its spot in the World Group with a 4-1 victory over South Africa in the World Group playoffs held in Montreal in September.
That followed a 4-1 defeat to France in the World Group first round at the indoor UBC venue, which will again have a synthetic hardcourt, last February.
"We were trying to qualify for the World Group for so many years, over eight years in South America and Mexico, and a lot of difficult destinations and difficult teams to play," Laurendeau said. "But we feel we belong in the World Group. It's not a coincidence that we're there two years in a row."
But Laurendeau noted that playing on the road can hamper even the best teams, as demonstrated to Spain's upset loss to the host Czech Republic in France over the weekend. The setback prevented the Spaniards from claiming a sixth Davis Cup crown.
A big question Monday was whether Rafael Nadal will compete for Spain against Canada. The world's fourth-ranked player has not played since taking part in Wimbledon in June. Whether Nadal competes or not, the Canadians will have to contend with a team that has tremendous depth.
"They've got players that can play in altitude, on clay, indoors, outdoors. They've got righties, lefties," said Laurendeau.
Canada will counter Spain's talent with ace Milos Raonic of Thornill, Ont., who is currently ranked No. 13 in the world, Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver, and veteran doubles star Daniel Nestor.
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