While Eugenie Bouchard's run in Melbourne gave Canada an auspicious start to 2014, Frank Dancevic was not as lucky. On Sunday, a pulled muscle forced Dancevic to withdraw from his Davis Cup rematch, resulting in Canada being eliminated from the tournament.
Entering his do-or-die matchup in Tokyo, Dancevic was hoping to quiet the hometown crowd by defeating Japan's Kei Nishikori. On this day, however, it wasn't to be.
After losing the opening set 6-2, Dancevic lost the first game in the second set before realizing that something was wrong. The aforementioned pulled muscle ailing Dancevic was too much on this day as the Canadian was forced to retire, leading to his country's ousting in Tokyo.
To make matters worse, Thornhill's Peter Polansky lost his match later in the day to Go Soeda 6-1, 6-4 to increase Japan's overall lead on their Canadian counterparts to 4-1.
"Kei came out playing really well today and once I pulled a stomach muscle early in the second set there was no way I could stay with him when I could only serve at 20 per cent..." Dancevic said following the match.
"Under other circumstances I probably wouldn't have even stepped on the court with the way I was feeling, but this is Davis Cup and I wanted to give it all I had and push to the limit because this situation means a lot to me."
The 119th-ranked Dancevic played well in the opening game as he held serve during that first game. Unfortunately for the Niagara Falls native, the No. 18-ranked Nishikori was too powerful, breaking twice before winning the next five games to eventually take the set and, in the process, spell the end of Dancevic's day.
The Canadian team went to Tokyo without two of their top players as Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil were unable to recover in time from injuries suffered just weeks earlier.
On Saturday, Dancevic, who stepped in for Pospisil at the Davis Cup, paired up with Aussie Open mixed-doubles winner Daniel Nestor in the men's doubles bracket. Unfortunately, the Canuck duo lost to Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4.
As a result of their elimination from the Davis Cup, Canada will play a World Group playoff spot in September in hopes of keeping its spot near the top of the tournament. As for Japan, they advance to the Davis Cup quarter-finals awaiting a tiebreak between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
It certainly wasn't the most promising showing for Canada in the Land of the Rising Sun but hopefully, they take some solace in approximately eight months time as they will battle to maintain a top spot in the Davis Cup next year.