2015 champions Great Britain kick off this year's Davis Cup campaign against Canada away from home on the indoor hard courts of Ottawa. Both teams are without their top players, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic, allowing younger players the chance to impress on the big stage.
Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund lead the British team in their opening round tie. Evans comes into the tie at a career high ranking of forty-five after making his first ATP World Tour final at the Apia International Sydney at the beginning of the year and following up with a fourth-round appearance at the Australian Open. Edmund has already shown the ability to step up and lead without Andy Murray on the team after he guided Britain to victory over Serbia in the 2016 quarterfinals. The Brits also have a strong doubles team in Dominic Inglot and former world number one Jamie Murray to contest the crucial Saturday rubber.
Former Wimbledon doubles champion Vasek Pospisil leads the Canadian team in singles and doubles alongside seventeen-year-old Denis Shapovalov, who earned his second nomination. Shapovalov only previous Davis Cup experience came in a dead rubber in Canada's 5-0 thrashing of Chile in the world group playoffs last year. Although not being nominated to play in the draw, Peter Polansky takes his place on the team for the eleventh time. Daniel Nestor will play alongside Pospisil in doubles as he looks to add more victories to his name, already at the top for most wins in Canada's Davis Cup history.
Evans and Shapovalov take to the court first on the opening day of play. The pair have faced off once before in their careers, with Evans coming out on top in a tight three-set match at the Drummondville Challenger last year. The Brit will be the favorite to extend his lead in the head to head after such an impressive start to the year. Edmund and Pospisil will follow, with the Canadian leading the head to head 1-0, already notching a straight sets win over the Brit three years ago in Chennai. The Brit has come far since the last meeting, developing a punishing forehand that has pushed the top players in the world and helped him to his current ranking of forty-seven. Pospisil now sits outside of the top one hundred in the world but leading the charge at home in Davis Cup should bring out the best in the Canadian and the pair could be in for a tight battle.
Two former doubles world number ones Jamie Murray and Daniel Nestor headline what will be a great match on the middle day of the tie. Nestor and Pospisil have played together in Davis Cup six times already with a 4-2 win-loss record. Murray and Inglot have played twice and earned one win, the loss coming in five tight sets to the Bryan brothers in 2015. It's difficult to call who has the edge between both great teams. Given recent Davis Cup success, the Brits will be the slight favorites but the home crowd could tip the match in the Canadian's favor. A tough match is likely on the cards either way.
The teams top players Evans and Pospisil have faced off once before four years ago, with Pospisil edging the victory in three sets at the Vancouver Challenger event. Given the recent form of both, Evans will be the clear favorite. The first meeting between young guns Edmund and Shapovalov will finish proceedings on Sunday. Both players are big hitters but Edmund's brutal forehand gives him the edge over the Canadian. With the Brit having already proved his ability to step up in the big moments, closing out the tie in what could be a dead rubber should be no trouble.
Prediction: Great Britain def. Canada 4-1