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Defending champion Canada enters Davis Cup well aware of challenges ahead

After 109 years, Canada earned its first-ever Davis Cup title last year in Spain.

The encore starts on Wednesday.

“It was really important for us to win the Davis Cup,” coach Frank Dancevic told CBC Sports. “I think that until you actually do it, it’s difficult to believe that it can be done. But now that we’ve done it, we know that it’s possible for us.”

Dancevic, who played in the tournament across 14 years for Canada, is bringing back most of the same title-winning team, with one glaring exception in world No. 15 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The four-man squad includes returning champions Denis Shapovalov (No. 26), Vasek Pospisil (192), Gabriel Diallo (159) and Alexis Galarneau (200).

Shapovalov recently skipped the U.S. Open with an injury, but Dancevic stated last Thursday that the Richmond Hill, Ont., native is still planning on travelling to Italy, where the group stage will be held.

Canada faces the home team in its first match Wednesday before meeting Sweden on Thursday and Chile on Saturday.

Regardless of the individuals who make up the team, Dancevic, of Niagara Falls, Ont., stated that what makes the Davis Cup so special is the chance to represent Canada and play for something bigger than yourself.

“The whole team has to come together at the right time to win the entire thing. And it was really a magical moment when Felix won that match point and we won the entire thing,” he recalled.

Dancevic, 38, said that in the moments after Auger-Aliassime clinched the Davis Cup title with his singles victory over Australia’s Alex de Minaur last November, the team retreated to the locker room and reminisced on its path to the top.

“We couldn’t believe it for a long time. We were just really happy and celebrating,” he said.

Still, the Davis Cup veteran understood how important it is to savor victory in such a fickle tournament.

“It really is a miracle for everybody to come together as a team and the staff putting the guys together all week, working 10 hours a day. … You can imagine it’s just a lot of work, right? It’s a lot of work from the whole team to get these guys firing,” he said.

Steve Carr

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