Just over a month ago, the mercurial Latvian tennis star Ernests Gulbis, defiant in defeat, was disparaging in his assessment of Canadian fans and their tennis pros.
“All the Canadian players, they play always very well in Canada,” he said. “Honestly some of them – I guess you know who – they don’t play really nowhere else.”
Gulbis’s assessment didn’t hold up too well at the Davis Cup semi-final in Serbia at the weekend.
Playing on clay away from home against a team that boasts world No 1 Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic, who started the year as world No 9, the Canadians were up 2-1 on Saturday, with a 41-year-old, Daniel Nestor, the star of their doubles win.
Canada eventually lost 3-2 on Sunday, but team captain Martin Laurendeau was proud of the achievement, and rightfully so.
The Canadians are not a tennis nation and their Davis Cup history is short. This was their first appearance in the semis of the Davis Cup in the Open era and second overall.
They have played two consecutive years in the World Group only twice in their history and two of their singles players – Raonic, 22, and Pospisil, 23 – are very young.
“They are the youngest singles guys by far – four or five years behind the rest of the world for their top two Davis Cup players,” Laurendeau said. “So what they showed, it was awesome. They were willing to die out there.”
Gulbis is unlikely to be thrilled by that, especially as Latvia finds itself having just earned promotion to Europe/Africa Group I.