VANCOUVER, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Five-time Davis Cup champion Spain found itself in an unusual position Friday in being down 2-0 in the opening match of their World Group first round match against Canada.
With the No. 1-ranked Spaniards missing their top four players, including superstar Rafael Nadal and world No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 12-ranked Canada took advantage as their top player, Milos Raonic, won the opening match on the hard court at the University of British Columbia campus, beating Albert Ramos 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Frank Dancevic capped off a strong day for the hosts who have never won a World Group tie in four attempts when he thrashed Marcel Granollers in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Raonic, the world No. 15 and the highest ranked singles player in the tie, had his hands full with Ramos. The world No. 51 was making his Davis Cup debut and patiently took advantage of the Canadian's nine unforced errors in the opening set to win 7-6 in a tiebreaker.
The early setback fired up the towering Raonic who bounced back to claim the second set 6-4 and take control of the match. In the ninth game of the third set, he broke Ramos' serve for the second time to go up 5-4. Using his booming serve, which resulted in 20 aces in the match, Raonic won his third straight game to take the set 6-4.
In the next set, the Ontario native, the highest ranked Canadian singles player in history, broke Ramos' serve again to go up 5-4. He then put the Spaniard away with an ace on the deciding point to take the set 6-4 and the match, improving his Davis Cup singles record to 7-3.
Raonic called it a "little bit of weight off the shoulders" in winning the opening match and knowing that he'll improve throughout the tie. He is next scheduled to play a singles match on Sunday.
"There was a lot of tough moments throughout that match (against Ramos) where I felt like I just couldn't find the right solutions," he said. "I felt like I knew what the problems were and what I wanted to do, it just wasn't happening as easily, and it was a relief (to win) because of that."
The 25-year-old Ramos expressed no satisfaction in his match, adding he was playing to win but couldn't handle Raonic's serves that reached up to 230 km/h.
"In the second set I could have done more to make him (Raonic) nervous and to hold the match to my favor," he said. "He decided to return a lot more aggressive and ... I played against a dangerous player who's very good."
The 28-year-old Dancevic, currently ranked world No. 166, said he was surprised to beat the 34th ranked Granollers in straight sets. He added, despite the lead, Canada still needed another point to advance.
"The bottom line is it's not finished yet. We're up 2-0 but there's a long ways to go and it's not time to celebrate now," he said.
"We got to go out there, focus on who we're playing, finish the job and then we can celebrate after. These guys (Spain) are tough and they're going to come back hard. They're really going to dig down. It's not going to be easy to finish them off."
With Spain without Nadal, Ferrer, world No. 11 Nicolas Almagaro and Fernando Verdasco (No. 24) through injury or choosing to skip the tie, captain Alex Corretja had to rely on younger players in the opening singles matches who normally don't get to play for their country.
On Saturday, he' ll rely on the veteran doubles pairing of Marc Lopez and Granollers as they face Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil.
"We know how difficult is the situation and tomorrow we need to go out there and try to win doubles for sure," Corretja said. "Right now, it's not easy to feel anything positive because we just lost two matches, and especially the second one in straight sets.
"But tomorrow there are no changes at all. Marcel (Granollers) and Marc (Lopez) are going to play and we hope to win that match because we know how these guys can play and we also know how the Canadians can play, so we expect a very difficult match. But we' re going to try our best. We're going to fight hard to the end, and if Canada wants to beat us they need to keep on playing during the weekend because this is not over."
The winner of the tie will face the victor of Croatia-Italy, currently deadlocked 1-1, in the quarterfinals starting April 5.