Well-traveled Nestor awaits Davis Cup
When Canadian doubles star Daniel Nestor was playing in the U.S. Open last week, his older daughter was back home in Toronto attending her first day of kindergarten.
As they do almost every day of the 35 weeks Nestor is on the road, father and daughter shared the details of their days via Skype.
"(Tiana) is very shy,'' Nestor said from Belgrade, where Canada will play Serbia this weekend in a Davis Cup semifinal.
"She's one of those kids who, if she's somewhere for three hours, the last hour she comes into her own. The first two hours she's not being herself. She definitely needs some pushing and motivation to open up. Hopefully she comes around because I was like that too. If she's as shy as I was growing up, it will be tough for her.''
Technology, Nestor said, has made traveling easier. It's helped the father of two daughters — Tiana will turn 5 in December, Bianca is 6 months old — remain on the ATP tour, where he's claimed 81 men's doubles titles, including eight Grand Slams, in a pro career that has spanned more than two decades.
Nestor is the oldest regular player on the tour, having turned 41 last week during his 21st consecutive U.S. Open appearance.
Nestor, however, doesn't plan on walking away from the game just yet. And why would he when there are still so many reasons to play, including Canada's unprecedented recent performances on the international stage.
"People ask me how long I'm going to play. When you have a talented (Canadian) team and potential to play in these types of matches in years to come, that's what keeps me going still,'' he said ahead of Friday's opening matches on the clay of Belgrade Arena.
"If we're able to win this, it will definitely be a top moment (in my career),'' added Nestor, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2000. "Even being in this situation is a top moment.''
Canada has never made it this far in the event that begins each year with 130 countries and sees only 16 teams qualify for the World Cup. This weekend's winner moves onto the final in November against the winner of the other semifinal between Argentina and Czech Republic.
Milos Raonic will lead the Canadians against top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Serbia in the semi that is expected to draw 15,000 fans each day.
Nestor, who was born in Belgrade, will team again with 23-year-old Vasek Pospisil. The two recorded a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 15-13 win in Canada's Davis Cup quarterfinal victory over Italy last spring, a thriller that lasted 4 1/2 hours and set the stage for Raonic's singles win that ensured Canada's advance.
Pospisil considers himself lucky to play alongside the veteran who secured the world No. 1 men's double ranking for more than 100 weeks.
"(Nestor) is a legend and someone I looked up to for many years growing up,'' Pospisil said. "So obviously playing with him the first few time was nerve wracking. I feel much more comfortable now a year or two later and I'm really able to appreciate it.''
Nestor hopes to play through 2014, and turn around what hasn't been the greatest 2013.
He said his body, remarkably, feels a lot better than it did back in the early days during his injury-plagued singles career.
He travels with his own trainer now and draws inspiration from older athletes such as Niklas Lidstrom, the former Detroit Red Wings defenseman and seven-time Norris Trophy winner who retired at 42.
"There are a lot of athletes who have endured,'' Nestor said. ``I think a lot of it is that people retire because they're fed up or sick of it. Yes, it is very tough not being with my family all the time. But from what I've heard from people who've retired, they all say `This is the best it is.'''
That's why he tries to live in the moment.
"Definitely the life and the camaraderie with the other players is something I appreciate a lot more now. I was very shy when I was younger, and didn't always enjoy the lifestyle,'' Nestor said. "For sure I do appreciate it more. I know the days are numbered, so I really try and soak it up as much as I can until the day is done.''