MONTREAL - When Vasek Pospisil woke up following his marathon weekend of Davis Cup tennis against Israel, everything hurt.
''My legs were really sore, my shoulders — I don't even know how my left shoulder was hurting,'' the 21-year-old hero of Canada's upset victory said Tuesday. ''My head was the best part. It was in a happy place.''
Canada's top-ranked player Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., was supposed to lead the team in last weekend's playoff for a spot in the prestigious World Group. But when he came up sick and sore from recent hip surgery, it was Pospisil who stepped up with two singles victories and a win in doubles with veteran Daniel Nestor to clinch the best-of-five series 3-2.
Canada advanced to World Group play for the first time since 2004.
A draw will be held in Thailand on Wednesday (about 6 a.m. ET) to determine pairings for the first matches in February.
Canada was one of eight countries to reach the World Group from playoffs held around the globe last weekend. Each will face one of the top eight teams in the opening round.
Canada will have home-court advantage if it draws Spain or Argentina, who coincidentally will meet in the Davis Cup final in December. A coin toss will determine the host country if the Canadians are to face a team other than Spain or Argentina.
The victory in hot weather before a hostile crowd in Ramat Hashorn, Israel looked in doubt when Raonic, in his first action since Wimbledon, dropped his opening-day match before being deemed unfit to play for the rest of the weekend.
Pospisil registered a five-set victory over Israel's top player Dudi Sela, then the next day helped put Canada ahead 2-1 with the doubles win. Then he disposed Amir Weintraub on Sunday to clinch the series.
In all, he spent about 12 hours on the court.
''You could see he had a lot of confidence, but there was a lot of pressure,'' said team captain Martin Laurendeau. ''He's a young player on his way up, still learning, but the more it went on, nothing could hold him back.
''It was fun to watch. You could see the victory coming, but there was always some little drama, a situation, that he had to overcome. The Israelis never gave up. But at the end, it was magic.''
Laurendeau called it a big year for Canadian men's tennis. The team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Mexico then topped Ecuador in Americas group play to reach the playoffs. All three wins were on foreign soil.
And now, Canada has two quality young singles players to take on the world's best, along with one of the game's top doubles players in Nestor.
The six-foot-five Raonic shot up the world rankings to a career-high No. 25 after posting his first ATP tournament win in California then reaching the final of his next event. Hip trouble slowed his climb and he's currently ranked 30th overall.
Pospisil also had a strong season. He won two lower tier tournaments and qualified for the U.S. Open, losing in the second round to No. 28 Fernando Lopez in four tight sets.
The six-foot-four right-hander from Vancouver is ranked No. 127 and hopes to at least break the top 100 next year.
Both he and Raonic are big servers.
''We both have a lot of firepower and we can both can pull off upsets, especially if we play at home,'' said Pospisil. ''It would be great to have a home tie (series) here in Canada with our own fans and our own courts.
''The whole team is excited. It doesn't matter who we play, we can pull off an upset if we play really well.''
Tennis Canada executive Eugene Lapierre said having a competitive team potentially facing a squad led by international stars like Spain's Rafael Nadal or Serbia's Novak Djokovic means a bigger than usual venue will be needed. Canada's Davis Cup events often attract about 1,500 spectators but this time Lapierre hopes to secure a mid-sized hockey rink with about 7,000 seats.
Tennis Canada has yet to decide on a venue if it wins the draw.
''We want it jam-packed so a medium-sized arena would be nice,'' Lapierre said, adding he'd also like fans to bring some competitive edge to matches.
In Israel, the crowd cheered every missed serve and lost point by the Canadians and roared every time the home side did something good.
''We're not accustomed to that here,'' he said. ''We'll instruct the crowd to be the same.
"Be mean. They don't treat us well over there. So it'll be interesting.''
If Canada wins, it moves into the quarter-finals. A loss would drop it down into a playoff with one of the other World Group losers for the right to stay in the top tier.