September 15, 2018
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This Davis Cup tie in Toronto would prove to be bittersweet for Daniel Nestor. Canada’s most accomplished tennis player was competing in his final professional tennis match as he and Vasek Pospisil looked to clinch the tie over the Netherlands in their doubles appearance.
But the Dutch team of Matwe Middlekoop and Jean-Julien Rojer proved to be too strong for the Canadian duo, winning in four sets 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Every set was one break of serve but The Netherlands team brought big serves in the crucial moments. While the Dutch pair did not want to ruin the moment for Nestor, they knew they needed to secure a victory to keep the dream of clinching a Davis Cup tie alive.
“Not much we can do because we needed to win the point for our country,” laughed Rojer. “Nestor had an incredible career. His resume is the most accomplished on the court. We have a lot of respect for Daniel and what he has been able to accomplish in his career. We were happy that he was our last match.”
Middlekoop, Rojer Raised Games After First Set
It appeared that Nestor’s farewell match was off to the perfect set. The duo had six aces, eight winners and was winning 84 percent of their first serve points en route to a first set win 6-4. The Dutch pair began to raise their overall level of play in the final three sets. In those crucial moments, it was their serving and smart placement of groundstrokes that caught Nestor and Pospisil off guard. In the final three sets, Middlekoop and Rojer generated 29 winners to only 13 unforced errors. And the Dutch duo saved five break points the final three sets, a debilitating reality for a Canadian squad that needed to regain momentum.
“We went back to the basics after losing that first set,” said Middlekoop. “Our serving was incredible on the big points. We raised our game and cruised our way to being up two sets to one. Luckily, I had Rojer to save me a few times in the fourth set. But very happy to walk away with this win.”
It was clear Nestor was showing his age in those final three sets. His return of serve wasn’t strong enough to give the Dutch team ample opportunity to strike blazing groundstrokes. His serve also declined; after he tallied four aces in the opening set, Nestor started to lose rhythm and miss his spots on the first serve.
“It is not the way I wanted to end that’s for sure,” said Nestor. “I wanted to play one more season and I put a lot of effort and practice into this match. At the end of the day, I’m not at the level I once was. I wasn’t getting my returns in play and on serve, I had too many double faults, which ultimately costed us in this match.”
Daniel Nestor Retires As Canada’s Most Accomplished Player
When match point ended and the Dutch team had won, the Canadian crowd began to crescendo into a thunderous applause for Nestor. As tears began to fall from his eyes, the Canadian began to recognize the totality of the moment. After a 41 year career, the faded star will hang up the racquet, etching himself into the annals of Canadian tennis history.
“There is a lot I will miss about playing on the ATP Tour,” stated Nestor. “I will miss the thrill of competing at the highest level. I’ll miss being able to play in the world’s biggest tournaments, knowing I can win big matches. But I know that my time is now to retire and leave the game, knowing I did everything I can to have a successful career.”
The accomplishments that Nestor has achieved in tennis are stunning. He has 91 doubles titles, placing him 10th in all-time victories on the ATP Tour. He is one of six ATP players to have over 1000 match victories, placing him in a class that consists of Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors. Nestor has eight Grand Slam titles, achieved with partners Mark Knowles and Nenad Zimonjic. In the Davis Cup, the Canadian holds the records for total victories (48), most ties played (52) and most years played (25).
But above all of the career accolades, Nestor has played the pivotal role in inspiring the future generation of Canadian tennis. He is undoubtedly leaving at a time when the success of Canadian youth in tennis is at an all-time high, with the rise of Denis Shapovalov, Vasek Pospisil and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“Daniel is one of my best friends on tour so it stinks that he won’t be around,” states Pospisil. “Our friendship has evolved over the years. It was an honour for me to be on the court with Nestor in his last match. I will miss him for sure.”
Canada Prepares to Clinch Davis Cup Tie
Despite the Pospisil and Nestor loss, Canada still has a 2-1 advantage over The Netherlands heading into tomorrow’s singles matches. The Canadian team is in a solid position, with Milos Raonic having the opportunity to clinch the tie as he takes on Robin Haase. If that fails, then Canada will have to rely on Denis Shapovalov to lift the country to Davis Cup glory.
Raonic cruised to a straight-set victory in the opening day of Canadian Davis Cup defeating Thiemo De Bakker. Haase had to suffer a five-set heartbreaker, where he was up two sets to none and let the lead slip away to Denis Shapovalov. Given Raonic’s freshness heading into tomorrow’s match, it is not surprising that Canadian Captain Frank Dancevic is optimistic about his team’s chances.
“We’re in a good position heading into tomorrow,” said Dancevic. “Robin played a really long match, which is in our favour with Milos being fresh playing a short match. It is an advantage for us but we have to go out there and get the job done.”
As Canada sleeps on a 2-1 lead, the occasion at Coca-Cola Coliseum belonged to Nestor. The outcome of the doubles match against The Netherlands mattered little as the Canadian thanked his fans and family. He can retire as a player that did everything he could in tennis and more. While his absence on the tour will be missed, Nestor hopes to continue to help behind the scenes to continue to grow the game of tennis across Canada.
“We have so many great things going on in Canadian tennis. I want to still remain involved with the younger generation and continue to grow the game so we consistently have top players from our country. I will never forget the support from the fans in Toronto and Canada, not only in this year’s Davis Cup but across my entire career.”