53 nominations, 53 ties played, 48 total wins. When it comes to the Canadian Davis Cup team presented by Sobeys, Daniel Nestor is king. The 12-time Grand Slam champ has been there and seen it all, from the depths of Group II as a player, all the way to being part of the coaching staff for the team’s historic run to the Finals in Madrid in 2019.
Recently, Nestor took some time to discuss his Davis Cup career as part of a wider interview for our #TennisNation Builders content series. You may have read the article earlier this week about his breakthrough win over then-World No. 1 Stefan Edberg. And there’s still another to come about his career as a whole.
When reflecting on his time spent at ties with Team Canada, there are no shortage of fond recollections for the now-49 year old. And what stands out for him was the strong team spirit. “Some of my best memories of travelling and just having fun on tour came from Davis Cup, for sure,” he explained. “We had some really good camaraderie over the years, especially towards the end.”
It’s often said that the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup offer somewhat of a respite for players. Life on tour can be a exhausting with tournaments stacked week after week in far-flung locations and unfamiliar settings. That’s why Nestor thinks the Davis Cup is different. It’s the responsibility of playing for the man next to you, on the bench or on the streets of your home country that makes it unique.
“Having that extra support [during Davis Cup ties], if you’re at home you get that great home crowd support and if you’re away you feel that you’re there in a big group and you’re looking to your bench more when you’re in difficult matches,” he commented. “What’s special in that regard is that you feel part of a team, that you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for your country.”
The 2019 run to the finals was a monumental moment for Canadian tennis. Captain Frank Dancevic and players Denis Shapovalov, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Vasek Pospisil and Brayden Schnur pulled out some incredible performances to make it all the way to the championship tie in Madrid. Even for Nestor, an Olympic Gold medallist, it was an experience he’ll never forget.
“It was great to be part of that,” he said. “I thought obviously we performed amazing. Vasek and Denis were doing their best and carried the team to finals. Unfortunately, it was tough opposition in the final against Spain. But it was definitely one of the greatest performances that we’ve had as a country, for sure.”
The 2021 Finals are already underway and Canada face a tough task in qualifying from Group B following an opening-day, 3-0 defeat to Sweden at the Madrid Arena. Dancevic will lead his team – Pospisil, Schnur, Steven Diez and Peter Polansky – into Sunday’s matchup with Kazakhstan knowing there is no margin for error. The tie can be viewed live at 4:00 a.m. Eastern on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.