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Raonic out, Pospisil in for Canada's Davis Cup tie against Belgium

07/07/2015 11:01 EDT | Updated 07/07/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canada's Davis Cup captain hopes Vasek Pospisil's recent return to form will be a shot in the arm for a team heading into the quarter-finals without its top-ranked player.

Martin Laurendeau said Tuesday that he expects Pospisil and his teammates to step up their game after world No. 8 Milos Raonic announced he will miss next week's Davis Cup tie in Belgium with a lingering foot injury.

"It's disappointing as a team not to have Milos in the lineup, but injuries are part of the sport and we have to step up as a team like in any team event," Laurendeau said on a conference call.

"When you're best player's not there the other ones have to step up and I believe that the timing couldn't be better for Vasek to go over there and face the challenges, but still rise up to the occasion."

Vancouver's Pospisil is the last remaining Canadian singles player at Wimbledon after high-profile players Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard made early exits. Pospisil has been a warrior at the All England Club, making headlines Monday by spending almost six hours on the court in a pair of matches. He came from two sets down to beat Serbia's Viktor Troicki in his fourth-round singles match, then partnered with Jack Sock in a tough five-set doubles loss later in the day.

The former world No. 25 faces another challenge when he takes on local favourite and third seed Andy Murray in Wednesday's quarter-finals.

The resilient Pospisil has had only one of his singles matches go less than five sets, but Laurendeau said he's confident Pospisil will overcome any fatigue from Wimbledon in time for next week's tie.

"That's what the pros do and I'm convinced he's going to find a way to do it," Laurendeau said.

Davis Cup veteran Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., doubles ace Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Vancouver's Filip Peliwo, who will make his Davis Cup debut, were also named to the squad, which is being held on a clay court in Ostend, Belgium from July 17-19.

Toronto's Adil Shamasdin was named to the team as a squad player.

The loss of Raonic will sting. The hard server from Thornhill, Ont., has a 16-6 Davis Cup record and has been a huge part of Canada's rise on the international tennis scene.

"I'm devastated not to be participating in this tie against Belgium," Raonic said in a release. "Due to my recurring injury, I am not able to play tennis for the next few weeks. My goal right now is to get healthy as fast as possible and get back to playing tennis as soon as I can.

"I have been with this team a while and we have come a long way together. I know that they can win this tie and get us back into the semifinals."

Still, Laurendeau points to Canada's depth. Dancevic has played 34 Davis Cup matches, including a key win against Spain's Marcel Granollers in Canada's run to the 2013 semifinals. Pospisil can combine with Nestor to form a potent doubles combo.

While Peliwo is a relative unknown, the is a former star at the junior level. He appeared in all four junior Grand Slam finals in 2012, winning at Wimbledon and the U.S Open.

"He's flown under the radar, but he's a former junior champ," Laurendeau said. "He's got to figure out how to get that feeling back. It's a great opportunity for him to come in as a nominated player."

Belgium is led by world No. 15 David Goffin, who will be joined by Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans.

Canada defeated Japan 3-2 in Vancouver in March to set up the quarter-final with Belgium.

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