The final match of Daniel Nestor’s Davis Cup career did not go as planned.
Nestor and partner Vasek Pospisil suffered a four-set loss to Matwe Middelkoop and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands on Saturday afternoon as Canada dropped to a 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup tie. The 46-year-old Nestor in the international tennis competition for 25 years, playing in 53 Davis Cup ties, more than double that of any other Canadian.
“I wanted to play one more season and this match was one of the most important of the year for me and, obviously, I wanted to play better,” said a visibly disappointed Nestor. “I prepared pretty well for it and I was playing well in practice, but my level’s just not good enough anymore.”
Nestor and Pospisil lost to the Dutch duo 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 4-6 in front of a partisan crowd at Coca-Cola Coliseum on the Exhibition Place grounds of Nestor’s hometown of Toronto.
“When it was announced that we were playing in September in Toronto I was really looking forward to it,” said Nestor. “I wanted to win this match. The other tournaments I went to, playing these events one last time was fun, having my family with me, but this match was important for me, but I’m just not good enough anymore.”
Canada earned wins from Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., Friday night in the first and second singles rubbers. The singles matchups will flip on Sunday, with Raonic playing Robin Haase in the fourth rubber and Shapovalov will take on Thiemo de Bakker, if necessary.
“We’re in a good position, the guys gave their hearts out there today and we ended up going down, but that’s the nature of Davis Cup competition,” said captain Frank Dancevic, who pointed out that Raonic had a short three-set victory on Friday while his opponent Haase had a lengthy five-set loss to Shapovalov the same night.
“It’s good, it’s an advantage for us. We’re going to go out there and get the business done.”
Fans around Coca-Cola Coliseum wore red and white, waved Canadian flags and banged drums during stoppages in play. The crowd was more sedate than Friday night when the chair umpire had to threaten some fans with ejection in the fourth set of Shapovalov’s comeback victory over Haase.
After the match, Nestor addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support over the decades. He will be inducted into Canada’s Tennis Hall of Fame in a public ceremony before Raonic’s match with Haase on Sunday.
“I consider him one of my really good friends, so it’s tough to see him go,” said Pospisil. “Honestly, it was an honour to be on the court with him. I really wanted to win this with him in his last match.
“It’s been a pretty fun ride playing with Daniel over the years and I’ll be sad to see him go.”
Nestor’s skill in doubles competition has made him invaluable to Canada over the past quarter century, almost guaranteeing them a win on the second day of the three-day, five-match Davis Cup draws. He has a team-best 33-13 doubles record and was 15-15 in singles rubbers.
He won eight Grand Slam doubles titles over his lengthy ATP Tour career with a variety of partners and won gold for Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with Sebastien Lareau. He and Pospisil finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Games. In 2002, Nestor peaked as the top doubles player in the world.