DALLAS -- Two Canadians who've made themselves feel right at home in North Texas over the past 12 months will meet Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Challenger of Dallas tennis event at T Bar M Racquet Club.
Top seed Jesse Levine, defending champion of the $100,000 tournament, takes on unseeded Davis Cup teammate Frank Dancevic in Thursday's marquee night match, after former world No. 4 James Blake meets second-seeded Houstonian Michael Russell in another quarterfinal.
That's the same Dancevic who, as a qualifier last March, unexpectedly strung together five wins in Las Colinas to win the singles title at the $125,000 Dallas Tennis Classic. Counting his two wins in qualifying just to get into that main draw, Dancevic thus brings a nine-match Dallas winning streak into his showdown with Levine, who has won seven matches in a row at T Bar M dating to his title here last February as an unseeded player.
Dancevic lost only five games in three sets last weekend in a rout of 34th-ranked Marcel Granollers in Vancouver to help Canada stun a weakened Spain -- minus the injured Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer -- and claim its first-ever victory in the World Group of Davis Cup. The Ottawa-born Levine, ranked 80th in the world to Dancevic's 151, was ineligible to play against the Spaniards because the dual Canadian/American citizen only just recently registered to join Canada's Davis Cup team after moving to the Florida in his teens for family reasons and participating in various United States Tennis Association programs.
Dancevic had to beat another Davis Cup teammate in the first round this week, scoring a 6-3, 7-6 (10-8) triumph over No. 7 seed Vasek Pospisil. Levine and Dancevic have never met on the ATP Tour.
Blake, meanwhile, won his first two matches this week without losing a set to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with the scrappy Russell, who's ranked 90th in the world to Blake's current 116. Blake, though, has won all three of their previous matches.
Blake exited the doubles tournament Wednesday night when he and three-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mark Knowles, who's now a full-time DFW-area resident, suffered a surprisingly lopsided 6-1, 6-1 loss to the third-seeded American duo of Devin Britton and Austin Krajicek.