HALIFAX - Canada's top men's tennis player says he's physically ready for this weekend's crucial Davis Cup playoff against Colombia following a taxing run at the U.S. Open.
Milos Raonic, who is the No. 7-ranked singles player in the world, is expected to lead Canada's push to remain part of the elite World Group beginning Friday in Halifax.
Raonic will take to the court after his fourth-round exit last week in New York, losing a four hour 19 minute match in oppressive heat to tournament finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan.
"The body's good I'm just hungry to get back into competing," Raonic said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Injuries to Raonic and teammate Vasek Pospisil contributed to Canada's 4-1 loss in February's first-round tie with Japan but Raonic said a lot has changed since the last time he wore the country's colours in competition.
"I've been able to keep getting better . . . and I just look forward to using this and ending the year on as strong a note as possible," he said.
In addition to Raonic and Pospisil, the eighth-ranked Canadian team includes veterans Daniel Nestor and Frank Dancevic.
Team captain Martin Laurendeau said he expects the favoured Canadians to encounter stiff opposition from the "hungry" Colombians who are ranked 26th in the world. He said Colombia has depth in singles and features a good doubles team coming off a recent tournament win in Winston-Salem N.C.
"They're going to come after us and try to make their own history," said Laurendeau. "It's going to be a very tough weekend of tennis."
The Colombians feature Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla and top 20 doubles pair Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
Farah said there are few secrets between the teams because of the familiarity the players have developed as part of the pro tour.
"We already know the strengths and where the holes are," said Farah. "Whoever plays better tactically has a better chance to win."
The two sides haven't played since a second round Americas Zone Group encounter won by Colombia in 2010, although Canada has a 5-4 overall advantage in head-to-head competition.
Laurendeau said the Canadians are healthy and will be confident playing indoors at home after two consecutive Davis Cup ties on the road.
"We're playing under the conditions that suited us really well last year with the balls and court speed, so we feel good about our chances as a team this weekend," he said.
Canada is looking to replicate last year's successful Davis Cup campaign which saw the team reach the semifinals.