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US Davis Cup: What Next? 01/08/2010 - 12:37 PM

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by Pete Bodo

U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe hit it right on the head when he described Andy Roddick and James Blake's decisions to skip Davis Cup for 2010 as "the end of an era."  McEnroe now faces the daunting task of meeting powerful Serbia on clay without the services of the two singles players who have done most of the heavy lifting for the USA for the last decade. But he also has an opportunity to build upon the foundation laid by Roddick, Blake and the ever-reliable and utterly loyal Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob.

Chronologically, it isn't a bad time at all to begin a transition. The Bryans are as solid an anchor as the squad could want, and McEnroe told me that John Isner and Sam Querrey have both been working hard. They could provide the nucleus of a solid and versatile singles presence, especially on fast courts. Strategically, this isn't the best moment for a squad makeover, particularly if it's going to feature Querrey and Isner - a tie at home on a fast cement court would improve their chances considerably. Plus, a loss in Serbia means that the USA will have to play a World Group relegation tie in September. That raises the interesting question of whether Roddick and/or Blake would go Roger Federer on us, and step back into the Davis Cup arena in order to keep team USA up in the first division that will vie for the Cup in 2011.

But even if we fall out of the World Group, a little seasoning and confidence-building against beatable teams in a zonal play would certainly prepare America's youngsters for the variables of Davis Cup competition. Let's be honest about this - the USA presently doesn't have the Davis Cup talent or experience to rank among elites like Argentina (despite its dismal inability to close the deal in a final), powerful Spain (four Davis Cup championships since 2000), or versatile France. And Sweden (with Robin Soderling), Serbia (Novak Djokovic) and even Switzerland (some guy named Federer) all are capable of fielding teams with something the USA lacks with the departure of Roddick - a blue-chip singles player.

For those reasons, it seems that the USA ought to continue the tradition McEnroe established back in 2001, when he took the squad over after the short, unhappy tenure of his brother, John. The leadership should focus on building player loyalty, and keeping alive the high degree of team spirit that the Roddick-Blake-Bryans squads created. That can be a tricky thing, because it depends so heavily on intangibles like the attitude of the players, and the priorities each of them individually embraces. The upside for the USA is that team spirit has been running deep; Mardy Fish, who was nudged out of the line-up by his buddy Blake, remains a team guy. And American youngsters like Ryan Harrison and Devin Britton have been willing, enthusiastic practice partners in recent ties (for more on this, check my post today at ESPN).

It's surprising - and this is one of the great things about Davis Cup - how far a team can go with a combination of can-do team spirit and a break here and there in the draw. Just look at tiny Israel, or even Sweden in the post-Wilander/Edberg era. The World Group draw in Davis Cup is small enough (16 teams, four rounds to win) and the maddeningly charming vagaries of the host-visitor format are great levelers of the playing field (the nations simply take turns as host, a role which also carries the critical perk of choice-of-surface). The U.S. was 1-1 in finals in the Roddick-Blake years, losing away to Spain on clay in 2004, and winning at home against Russia in 2007 on a fast indoor court. The format ensures that any nation has reason to hope, which means that team spirit and vigilance - the ability to sustain hope until the inevitable opportunity presents itself, are key.

The draw for the USA is especially tough this year, with Serbia and - probably - Croatia (the only World Group nation the USA has never beaten in Davis Cup) in the quarters in the unlikely event that Team USA gets past Djokovic and company. Although the USA would host Croatia, it would have very little discernible advantage when it comes to choice of surface. In Davis Cup, unlike a typical singles tournament, the competition doesn't necessarily get tougher as you progress toward the final (although the nations are seeded). It just gets. . . different.

Given the realities of the format, it isn't such a bad time for Roddick and Blake to sit out the year, and down in Australia, Roddick made a point of saying that he hasn't retired - he's just taking the year off because he wants to change surfaces from week-to-week as little as possible (partly out of concern for a tender knee). Blake hasn't said that he's finished with Davis Cup for his career, either.

Perhaps it isn't the end of an era as much as the terminal point of a great run for two distinguished Davis Cup veterans who may yet have further chapters to add to the lore and legend of the greatest annual international team competition on the planet.


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Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:44 PM

No title.

Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:45 PM

Perhaps I could suggest one: "The End of a Weak Era."

Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:45 PM

OK, fairly close.

Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:46 PM

And the first Grand Slam of the year for me.

Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:47 PM

Um, for the record, the title has been changed again. I WAS fairly close. No BS.

Posted by robbyfan 01/08/2010 at 12:48 PM

I want Andy R. to concentrate on majors and win his 2nd.

Posted by robbyfan 01/08/2010 at 12:49 PM

Forgot to say-love the picture.

Posted by NP 01/08/2010 at 12:50 PM

But seriously, I'm surprised that Roddick is sitting out. Can't fault the guy who has been so committed all these years, but the USA is toast against Serbia now.

Posted by robbyfan 01/08/2010 at 12:52 PM

Whatever happened to the uprising to convert Davis Cup to every other year or the off year from the Olympics? I think it would give the winners greater impact and focus attention more than an every year moment.

Posted by antoinette 01/08/2010 at 12:54 PM

So where is all the thunder and lightning we get when Federer opts out of DC. His patriotism is questioned as is his character. I guess it is only a big deal when he does it.

Posted by robbyfan 01/08/2010 at 01:15 PM

antoinette-i like that-thunder and lightning! I think it is just us 3 folks here, you, NP, and me

Posted by antoinette 01/08/2010 at 01:23 PM

Just goes to show, nobody is really interested in DC anyway.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 01/08/2010 at 01:31 PM

Oh, I love DC ... always!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 01/08/2010 at 01:35 PM

*waves hello*

It's kind of sad to see Roddick pull out, another top player - but I can see why and it makes sense for him to concentrate on his own career, now, really. Same for Blake. It just isn't possible to do everything. And if it gives the younger ones an opportunity, great.

I like DC. There were some really great matches this year, too. Although I hope the UK can get out of group 2754 or whatever it is next year; perhaps we need some more of that "can-do team attitude".

Posted by zenggi 01/08/2010 at 01:38 PM

Good evening,

The US can find other players for Davis Cup, no?. Though I love to watch this competition, it seems obsolote in this era.

There, we are now four.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 01/08/2010 at 01:39 PM

A lot of players "opt out" as they get older and I can't say I blame them.

I would just love to see GBR do better/

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 01/08/2010 at 01:40 PM

Well, USA could do worse than field Isner and Querry.

Posted by observer 01/08/2010 at 01:53 PM

I like Davis Cup also, but, given that a career in professional tennis is very much about being an individual success and star, can find no fault with players who decide it's not in their best career interests or who simply do not want to participate.

I'm surprised Roddick played so faithfully for the US DC all these years, given that he has been trying to win a second major for the majority of a decade and has been struggling until 09 to get his act together. He even skipped the Olympics in an effort to give himself a better shot at the USO in 08, so this isn't all that unexpected really.

Posted by robbyfan 01/08/2010 at 02:07 PM

Andy Roddick just gets no respect! Observer-how can you say it has taken him until 2009 to get his act together/ he has been in more semis and finals than anyone not named Federer.

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 02:18 PM

I totally agree, antoinette. I've been complaining about the media attack on Federer about DC for years, including Bodo. I have absolutely no problem with any player who opts out of DC for whatever reason. Federer is hardly the first top player to do it. Even big Americans like Connors, Sampras, and Agassi opted out of several DC ties. Sampras said repeated that it was very difficult to play DC AND try to win GS and be #1. As I have posted many times, the year Sampras 'came in and saved the day in the final', he did not play all the ties that year. Luckily the US was deep enough that other journeyman players carried the burden that allowed Sampras to 'come in and save the day'.

I have tremendous respect for J-Mac who was one of the few #1s who made himself available for DC all the time. Good for him and the US. But that does not make other guys who don't do that 'egotistical' or 'unpatriotic'.

It just really irks me that Federer seems to be the only guy who gets ripped for not placing DC over everything else.

Good for Andy and James - you selfish jerks! :)

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 02:23 PM

robbyfan, I agree that Roddick does not get the respect he deserves. He doesn't have the natural talent of Fed or Nadal, but damn if he hasn't made the most of the talent he has... and then some. But the bottom line is... he plays for the US where being second-best (or third-best, or 4th-best, etc) isn't good enough. He followed Sampras and Agassi, and in 2003 when he won the USO and ended the year #1... the US expected him to continue on that trajectory.

I would love to see him win another GS and based upon his performance at Wimbledon this year - he can. I think he would have beaten anyone but Fed that day.

Posted by TennisFan2 01/08/2010 at 02:29 PM

No one can doubt the commitment Roddick and Blake have made to Davis Cup. Hopefully they will play again (or captain) in the future. Both would make fantastic captains - I imagine they would be great motivators for younger players.

I don't blame either of them for sitting out this year and it's quite considerate that they made the decision now instead of halfway through the season.

Roddick knows he's a contender this year for a slam and he should focus all his attention on winning one (he's not getting any younger). Blake just has to focus on his game and get it together. He's got all the talent - hopefully he'll find some belief in himself to go deep this year.

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 02:46 PM

James and Andy have played almost every single DC tie for the USA for 10 consecutive years. That is very, very different from any of the other players, past or present (including Federer), whose "desertion" (please, I'm being facetious!) of DC can be compared or is being compared with theirs. Let's at least try to compare apples and apples, please.

And, that is why I, a longtime DC KAD, have no problem with their taking a break now, even though I'd love to see them continue their virtually unbroken commitment to DC until PMac says, "Thanks. We really don't want or need you anymore." Like many DC KADS, I'm selfish, but I can be fair and sensible -- sometimes.

As long as the Bryan brothers don't adopt the "Our team can't win if we're the only guaranteed winners" attitude... and use that as a reason/excuse to pull out, I'll be very happy to support the USA team through this rebuilding period.

Posted by izidane 01/08/2010 at 02:58 PM

As a DC fan= I'm disappointed. The USA/Serbia matchup was promising with all the big names showing up. Hopefully, the rest of the team steps up. I'll be watching and cheering them on.
As a Roddick fan= a little relieved. He tends to leave too much of himself on these rubbers year after year. I'm sure he will miss contributing to the team as the DC has always meant so much to him.
Thanks for all the hard work all these years boys, see you back on the team soon.

Posted by Marko 01/08/2010 at 03:09 PM

Chickens!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 03:12 PM

I cannot imagine either James or Andy turning Capt.McEnroe down if they are needed in September (I hold no hope that we'll get by Serbia). That's my 2cents anyway. And both guys deserve, really deserve a break and I hope it proves beneficial to both of their singles careers this year. It will be exciting to watch the new team get put together and develop. Good luck Captain Mac!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 03:14 PM

izidane: i know zero about coaching but don't you think Arod would make a great DC coach someday?

Posted by observer 01/08/2010 at 03:19 PM

robbyfan, I didn't mean to suggest anything negative about Roddick's results from a commentator/fan perspective. He has had an awesome career so far. He's one of, what, 6 or 7 active players to have won a major, and one of the last 3 players to be #1.

What I meant was that since Federer took his #1 ranking and has only let it go for 9 months since 2004 (how unbelievably ridiculous is that, btw?) and he has not won another major since US 2003, I'm sure Roddick would characterize his results as less than desirable. Thus I described the period as "trying to get his act together," which is definitely unfair considering that he reached like 4 grand slam finals since then (and lost them all to the best player to ever live), but I was just saying that it's understandable that he would want to put all his efforts in his singles career than in DC ties.

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 03:21 PM

izidane: Because, as we always say, this is DC!!!, we can hope and wish for anything -- including having the younguns step up and surprise us as Mary Jo's younguns did in Fed Cup last year.

After all, did anyone really expect to see the USA in the finals of Fed Cup without Serena and/or Venus playing one or more of the preceding ties? I think not...yet, there they were!

Posted by izidane 01/08/2010 at 03:22 PM

Annie: My knowledge on coaching...umm zilch.

Andy's great, but for some reason I figure James would be a better coach. Andy has stayed in the top ten thro' hard work, tenacity and some talent. Don't know how understaning of a coach he'd be if his charge were to give anything less. James on the other hand might be more level headed about it.

Posted by waylandboy 01/08/2010 at 03:31 PM

I wish this was the end of the entire Davis Cup era as we know it. I don't think many Americans really care about this anyway. I hope American tennis does well and new start emerge, but if the Davis Cup went to an every other year format, or even every four years that would be fine by me. Andy Roddick has been great for American tennis, but I don't blame him at all for taking this year (or every year) off.

Posted by izidane 01/08/2010 at 03:33 PM

Ruth: Right. That's the spirit!!
Look at SammyQ's run at Monte Carlo in 08. And Mardy has pulled some minor miracles on clay before....then Izzy's our wildcard *should look up his record on clay*

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 03:39 PM

"As long as the Bryan brothers don't adopt the "Our team can't win if we're the only guaranteed winners" attitude... and use that as a reason/excuse to pull out, I'll be very happy to support the USA team through this rebuilding period."

I'm trying to think of any player who has ever used that as an excuse not to play. Can you think of one? I do remember the British press saying that they could understand if Murray decided not to keep playing while GBR wallows outside the world group.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 03:43 PM

All of these comments have been eye opening for me. For the first time it hit me reading Alexis's post about how tough it must be to go for slams, keep your ranking AND play DC. I honestly havent been around for when Fed gets slammed when he doesn't play but it really is a big commitment. If you're all by your lonesome without any strong teammates or a coach you're close to, imagine the drag it would be to play DC.

.."damn if he hasn't made the most of the talent he has.." so, so true!!! I would love to see him win a major this year (but there's a little piece of me that's pretty sure his last real shot was wimby 09 when he came about as close as you can get -- still hurts to think about).

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 03:46 PM

The best thing that can happen to Davis Cup is to at least make it every other year and in a DC year, change the schedule a bit to accomdate the DC and maybe lessen the mandatory events for that year. In this day-and-age, it is asking alot of a top player (who goes far in tournaments week-in-and-week-out) to fly off to some other country (maybe quite far away from where the current ATP tour is), play on a different surface (perhaps quite different from the surface the current ATP swing is on), and then play perhaps three Best-of-5 set matches on consecutive days.

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 03:54 PM

Annie, I agree with what you said about Wimbledon 2009. Obviously as a Fed fan, I wanted desperately for Fed to win there and get #15 - especially with Sampras and all the legends watching. Actually, as I was watching and when I thought Roger was going to go down two sets, I kind of told myself that it would be okay if he lost, because no one deserved to win a second GS more than Roddick, and no one probably deserves to win Wimbledon more than Roddick.

In alot of ways, Roddick's situation mirrored Fed's at the FO. Roddick has now lost 1 semi and 3 finals to Fed at Wimbledon without winning. And until this year, Fed had lost 1 semi and 3 finals to Nadal at the FO without winning. So, I honestly found it rather poignant when Federer said that he knew how Roddick felt. Because he really did - because he had the same heartbreak at the FO.

So like I said, I was actually okay with Roddick possibly winning Wimbledon until it became a 5-set thriller. The longer the match went in the 5th set, the more I wanted Roger to win. Why? Because I just couldn't bear the sadness if Roger lost two straight 5-set heartbreakers at his most beloved tournament. I wouldn't wish that one anyone really.

So, I honestly do hope if Roddick is in another GS final, that he wins (although I hope it won't be against Roger).

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 04:09 PM

You're right, Alexis. I can't quote a player who has actually come out and verbalized the excuse to which I referred, but I could find quotes, just here at TW, from about 443 :) of one player's fans who have used that as a reason/excuse for his non-participation. So, I stand corrected.

In fact, I remember stating here and at another tennis forum that I think it's insulting to attribute that excuse or reason to a player -- unless, of course, you have inside information that confirms that's how he decides about whether to play or skip DC. I've been hearing this excse for about as long as I've been followin DC,,,and that's about 40 years!

BTW To dismiss this excuse, I've used the example of the Black brothers (Wayne and Byron) of Zimbabwe (maybe too often) as players who took their country on their backs in singles and doubles over and over even though they must have known that their chances of winning a DC championship were next to nil.

Posted by Mr. X 01/08/2010 at 04:10 PM

Am i the only one who thinks the USA still have a chance? I mean, would McEnroe have called Blake when Querrey has a better ranking and better results on clay? Of course, losing Roddick is a big hit to the Americans, but i still think they could win the matches where Nole isnt involved. It isnt like Serbia has a superb team apart from him.
As for their decission, i can understand it, specially Roddick's. He has carried the team for many years, and it is only fair for him to take some breaks as he gets older.
Pete's point that team spirit and good atmosphere is a key to DC success is very true, as shown by the bad examples (Argentina in 2008) and the good ones (Spain in 2009) we have seen in the last 2 years. Of course, it is easier to have those things when you are winning.
However, i still think depth is the single most important factor in DC, which anyway is a very unpredictable competition, because of its format.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 04:15 PM

actually, X, the good example of team spirit was the armada in 08. talk about pulling together and getting it done juxtaposed with the argies who were imploding at the very same time. it was quite the spectacle, no?

Posted by Mr. X 01/08/2010 at 04:17 PM

I was referring to the examples of Nadal and Verdasco coming to cheer in the SFs when they were out injured, and even more, Ferrero and Robredo doing the same thing in the final after being left out of the team.
But your point is also very true.
However, as i said, it's easier to have good team spirit when you are winning.

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 04:19 PM

waylandboy: I'm sure that more Americans care about the USO than about DC, but, suffice it to say that tickets to the last 3 or 4 DC ties held in the USA were sold out in record times; and the TV ratings, when they showed the ties on accessible channels, were quite decent. So, I wouldn't say that "not many" Americans care about DC.

Maybe it's all relative. We often hear about how not too many Americans care about tennis -- period. But we know better, don't we? :)

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 04:20 PM

Again, Ruth, I have never disputed that there have been some countries that have defied the odds and won the DC for their country. In some cases, DC glory is really the only legitimate glory that some of these players can hope to achieve.

My problem has always been when very top players are attacked for not playing, for choosing to focus on their individual goals. Tennis is an individual sport, right? As I pointed out, Sampras didn't play every tie and he opted out for the same reason that Fed has. And if the US had relied as much on Sampras as Switzerland has too on Fed (I'd love to see Sampras have to play both singles AND doubles for the US to have any chance to advance), I don't think Sampras would have a DC title either. And like I said, the year Sampras 'saved the day' to win the DC title, he did not play all the ties. I have no doubt that Federer would be available to 'save the day' in that scenario too.

It just irks me that some media want to rip into Fed's legacy because Switzerland does not have a DC title. Let Sampras or even Nadal play for Switzerland and we'll see how many DC titles they would have.

Posted by lionheart 01/08/2010 at 04:27 PM

hey all!!!!!!!
wow just came back of school and the first thing i see is feds out and we have a rafa-kolya final ...great and congrats to kolya and fans (sokol) but i really wanted a fedal final....maybe a melbourne rematch, later.
and yay for all the belguians...wow 3 are in finals ..im goin with kim at brisbane and awesomes flavs at aukcland but juju win over ana seemed by the score really convicing and wicky its a tough cookie still ill be happy for any of this women to win (loved whe this happen)
*now off to read *

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!! ) 01/08/2010 at 04:33 PM

I was very disappointed to see that James and Andy have decided to step down from Davis Cup, but I certainly understand why. At this point in time, they've been carrying the singles load for almost too long.

At this stage of their careers, they need to pick and chose their battles I think. And with Andy trying to position himself to challenge the big tourneys, and James trying to pull his form together with a new coach, trotting off the Serbia the week before the US hardcourts doesn't sound wise.

Besides, both Sam and John deserve their opportunity to play and to begin to step out from the other guys' shadows to lead the team. Its going to be a tough tie, but they could still win; if they agree to play for PMac.

I've said it before, while I totally lurve DC; I have to respect the decision of any player who choses not to play. And I still have a blast watching the ties - regardless of who's on court!

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 04:35 PM

Alexis: I agree that it's absolutely ridiculous for anyone to rip Fed for the absence of a Swiss DC championship. The whole idea of DC is based on winning with a good TEAM. Roddick alone could not have won the DC championship for the USA.

I think however, that the critical fans whose comments I've read are more concerned about whether Roger's decisions about when and where to play DC have deprived the Swiss of possibly having a CHANCE to win a championship -- maybe in one of those frequently surprising or odd circumstances that define DC.

How odd is it, for example, that, as Pete points out, Croatia is the only country that the USA has never beaten in DC? Croatia? Weird, no? But that's DC for you...anything can and does happen, but it can happen only if you play.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 01/08/2010 at 04:36 PM

Pete. Good article.

A pity in many ways that both guys have decided this year to take a break from DC.They have both been such stalwarts for America in the DC.None can argue their total commitment either.Though as Roddick pointed out his I can see his reason for his decision.

As a lover of DC over the many years.I have watched USA v Australia in their battles.

I guess it just wont be the same without these two players.Though its good to Blood the new younger players its just a natural progression.

Posted by just a note 01/08/2010 at 04:40 PM

In the Deuce Club 1.1.10 on pg. 9 @2:44am on 1.3.10 elise posted the following comment:

" "But make no mistake about Federer’s willingness to step up to the plate, despite asides from the media about his lack of commitment to Davis Cup and to his country. Federer has played in the competition every single year since he turned pro as a teenager: That’s 11 consecutive years since 1999, and counting.

He’s won 37 of the 48 rubbers he’s played. Compare that with players of a similar age, and whose patriotism is rarely questioned: Andy Roddick, 31 of 42; Lleyton Hewitt 39 of 51; and David Nalbandian 27 of 36.

Compare it, too, with the players whose records Federer is targeting: Lendl, 22 out of 37; Agassi 30 out of 36; and Sampras just 19 out of 28." ”


I don’t know anything about Davis Cup history but I remember thinking, after reading this, that it seems the players really do try and participate in DC. I have no idea why players are taken to task for their lack of participation when, as Alexis pointed out, there are individual career goals a player might have and only so much time to achieve them. That’s why elise’s comment made an impression on me and I made note of it; I think they do try.

IMV, Andy has a limited amount of time to try and fulfill his desire to win another GS and something must be given up in order to do it. I don’t fault him, or any other player, making these choices. With everything he has given to the game, I’d love for him to win a few more :) .

(P.S. No source was given by elise and I hope it was OK to reprint her comment here.)

Posted by lionheart 01/08/2010 at 04:41 PM

ahhhh DC i loved it !!!!
i think maybe right now its not good not have randy and james at DC but at the long term its good cuz its makes possible for some youngsters to have the chance to gain experience and the chance or playin DC even at the expense of fallin out of the World group and below..but even with this guys out ..the others one (sam,jonh,) are not that either

is this the "CC" of today ?

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 04:46 PM

"I think however, that the critical fans whose comments I've read are more concerned about whether Roger's decisions about when and where to play DC have deprived the Swiss of possibly having a CHANCE to win a championship"

When and where? Not sure what that means. Roger has only opted out of the first round of DC in the recent past. He was supposed to play last year against the US but had to pull out because of his back. And I think the only reason Roger decided to play last year in the first round is because it was in the US and on a hardcourt - keeping with the fact the the spring hardcourt season was going on and he would be in the US anyway. That is not the case this year when he would have to go to Spain and play on clay. Hardly good prep for IW and Miami!

Again, not sure how the critics can question 'when and where'. Switzerland has not gotten out of the first round recently, so Roger hasn't opted out of any other round. And Roger has always made himself available in September to help keep them in the world group. A few years ago, Roger played that round and despite Roger playing all three matches, Switzerland lost.

And despite Roger being exhausted this year, he played DC in September and basically took himself right out of the Asian swing because of it. Yeah, that's selfish! :)

Posted by Alexis 01/08/2010 at 04:51 PM

Thank you 'just a note'. Unfortunately for Roger, because he usually opts out of the first round, Switzerland has not been able to win the tie to advance. When Sampras, Agassi, even Nadal have not played, they were lucky that their team still advanced. Again, Sampras would not have had that fantastic final tie if others had not gotten the US to that point. Nadal did not play all the ties this year, yet Spain still won. Nadal did not play the final last year, but Spain won. Again, Federer has not been that lucky.

Posted by Mr. X 01/08/2010 at 04:56 PM

Alexis,
There's no question that Fed is unlucky that his team can barely beat anybody if he's not playing, and those players you mention have much more depth in their teams.
However, with the team Switzerland has now, i think they could have a chance to win the DC, if given a good draw. The thing is, they were very unlucky with their draw this year. Coming to Spain is basically the wrost 1st round they could have had. But i still think there's time for Fed in DC. If he finds a year with a relatively easy draw, i have no doubt that he will go straight into it. He has a decent No.2 to folow him now.

Posted by rafadoc 01/08/2010 at 04:57 PM

Great photo up top.

Can't blame Andy for not wanting to switch surfaces in the midst of the season. That is a tough ask. He has been great for the US team and deserves a break. Glad he is not ruling it out for next year.

I have been mad at Blake for a while regarding DC. The final straw was his complaining about the Croatian (I think) crowd being loud at his match this past year. I mean-dude-its DC.

I absolutely love Davis Cup and the crowd atmosphere. So many opportunities for players to contribute and be heroes. Of course, the Spanish team comes to mind. Ferrer's match was just so awesome last month.

Posted by rafadoc 01/08/2010 at 05:02 PM

^^ I have to amend my above post a bit though. Blake has been dedicated to DC so credit where credit is due. He just seemed a bit uninspired in recent ties. Maybe a break will help him too.

I love the idea of Isner and Querry. Sammy Q did a nice job taking a set off of Rafa in the bull ring in 2008. I would love to see him play DC.

Posted by Mary 01/08/2010 at 05:07 PM

Andy has given his all to Davis Cup & has a great record.i think he's made the right decision,it's time he put his career 1st.I hope he can play as well as last year & have another good season & hopefully win the 2nd Slam he so deserves.

Posted by jb (Go Smiley Fed!! ) 01/08/2010 at 05:09 PM

just a note - agreed that on the short term there may be some pain for the US, while Sam and John take over responsibility for the team. But i think it needs to be done; even if we do get relegated. But really, neither of those guys are chopped liver, the seem to be improving nicely and maybe the will take the opp to shine.

mr x - agree that the swissies got absolutely the worst draw this year. I think if they manage to stay in the world group, and there's a decent draw the following year Fed would play. Aside from the whole armada on clay thang this year, Stan's wife is due around that time so there's a very good chance that he'll be absent also.

So next year for the Swissies. hopefully. :)

Posted by izidane 01/08/2010 at 05:09 PM

'...... That is not the case this year when he would have to go to Spain and play on clay. Hardly good prep for IW and Miami!'

While I understand other fans' POV, this is one of the reasons why I love, love Andy.
Didn't matter where the tie was and on what surface, he would show up and play. He played some ties with serious injuries as well. Guess knowing that the Bryans were part of the team helps. The greatest asset of DC is the team.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 05:20 PM

rafadoc, in james' defense, some of these crowds can get downright nasty. Remember Amer Delic's match v. PHM at IW last year? The crowd made me nervous and i was sitting in my living room. But in DC i guess it's part of the game so the players should expect some very rowdy one-sided cheering. add a little alcohol and you get what happened last year in Melbourne outside Laver. There was a brawl of somekind.

Posted by rafadoc 01/08/2010 at 05:23 PM

Annie: I am sure I am being too hard on James. I just found his complaining about it a bit "whiney" but, hey-in his shoes I might of done the same thing.

Posted by arbiter 01/08/2010 at 05:31 PM

"If Americans cannot win it, it should not exist", that is the message of US media, hence the US sport fans, about any sport competition where USA is not the best team.

I don't think that Serbia will have an easy match, not at all. Sam can even beat Novak on a good day, and Bryan brothers are #1 in the world. USA will be highly motivated, and prepared. It is now mentally harder for Serbia to prepare, knowing that they are clear favourites. Also, breaking Isner's serve is a hard task for anybody.

Posted by rafadoc 01/08/2010 at 05:36 PM

arbiter: Just FYI, I am an American and cheer for the US, but Spain as well. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 01/08/2010 at 05:50 PM

arbiter: not all american sports fans agree with the moronic U.S. sports media. I cannot stand the american "superbowl" and the baseball "world series." all that jingoistic stuff drives me nuts. but what's there to do? for some reason americans can fill up a 100,000 seat football stadium but we yawn at soccer. i don't understand it myself. well, it's cultural. if i'd grown up with cricket i'd love cricket. but cricket is greek to me.

I'm very patriotic and love my country but when it comes to DC I wish I was spanish ;) ole.

Posted by wilson75 01/08/2010 at 06:24 PM

Davis cup cannot be so great if it's not shown on TV. The format needs an overhaul. Do it every two years and played in over a four week period like the world cup. If it was like that you would not have the top players dropping out. Maybe now that Roddick has dropped out Pete will ease up on Roger for not playing. You never know come September USA might have to play Switzerland to stay in the world group.

Posted by Ruth 01/08/2010 at 07:03 PM

What's the point of a player helping his team to make it the world group (nice honor) but not playing the first tie which, if I'm not mistaken, one has to win in order to win the second or third or final tie??? That's like leading a horse to water etc etc!!

Unless a country has what they are dead sure is a slam dunk (never a given in DC) in the first tie, they've got to field as strong a team in the first tie as they do in any other tie.

There was a time when the USA had such depth that they could occasionally let the top players skip the first tie. BTW that's one of the reasons that comparing number of DC ties or matches played is often a useless pursuit; many top players were allowed, even encouraged, to skip ties entirely when the country had great depth, AND captains often let lesser players play dead rubbers when the tie was won after the doubles.

(It was funny to read in Agassi's book about how he went out eating junk and drinking after one DC Day 1 because he figured he wouldn't have to lay again on Day 3.)

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/08/2010 at 08:14 PM

I think they should quit Davis Cup and commit to the rest of their careers. Andre Agassi did no favors by returning to the squad against Croatia, on a slowish hard court in 2005 and that was a DISASTER. It was the best final year of Agassi's career (let's admit 2006 was painful) and he had no need to come back. But it proved that the team belonged to Roddick and Blake and others - that it belonged to the next generation of u.s. players.

That's the way it should be and it's not a bad model. It's worked for Rafael Nadal - it turned Blake into a pretty good competitor (he could be better- but he could be much worse!). So it's time to consider it a training ground for new generations that want to play in big forums.

Roddick and Blake shouldnt look back - they should be done with davis cup and on to the rest of their tennis career.

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/08/2010 at 08:48 PM

It is actually necessary - this is a recognition of reality and it's timely for Roddick and Blake. They really dont have much time yet to get big titles - it's an upward climb when they are at the peak, and both players - moreso in the case of blake than roddick, are on the downside of their careers (you could make a case for Agassi's greatness, but Agassi was better than both of them even when he was not in his prime - whether younger or older, he was always better until 2006).

Querrey, Isner and others need this opportunity. They need to be without Roddick and Blake and, like Isner did at the US Open against Roddick, prove somethings to themselves. It's the only way - Querrey needs some big victories fast and Isner needs to build on his momentum from 2009. This is a major opportunity, no one's giving them much of a shot - they have to prove it's their team - or the next generation has to prove it's their team (Harrison, Britton, maybe Donald Young if he gets motivated).

Posted by arbiter 01/09/2010 at 01:11 AM

No scores here, no scores on ATPWorldTour site...did Robredo really beat Murray?

Posted by arbiter 01/09/2010 at 01:14 AM

He did: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/robson-takes-first-set-6-1-against-martinez-sanchez/story-e6frf9if-1225817607140

I almost expected that, after Murray said he could win Australia if he plays as well as against Andreev. Well, now Robredo can say that...he could become #1 in the world if he plays like this :)

Posted by karin1492 01/09/2010 at 04:10 AM

Henin won the toss and will receive.

Posted by karin1492 01/09/2010 at 04:14 AM

Some really good stuff so far by both players, and Clijsters holds 1/0.

Posted by Mary 01/09/2010 at 06:13 AM

Sorry,just going back to the DC,i think Andy would make a great team captain sometime.Love the pic:)

Posted by Jeff 01/09/2010 at 01:49 PM

I think the Mac bros need to come out of retirement for some doubs action. Then, bring back Pete and Andre for the singles.

Posted by tina 01/09/2010 at 03:19 PM

USA hosting Croatia gives the US no clear advantage at all - anyone else remember Carson City, California?

Posted by Kevin Kuybus 01/10/2010 at 09:18 AM

Its very difficult for US davis team bring Laurence, without the two best playes of their team

Posted by Tien 01/10/2010 at 12:44 PM

It's a great opportunity for Isner and S .Querrey to come to take over the job in the US.Davis Team. Hope they will work hard to do the jober better. P>Mc.Enroe can rely on them.

Posted by Andrew Miller 01/11/2010 at 12:23 AM

Against Serbia: why cant the U.S. win? Is Djokovic really playing all 3 matches? Here's your likely Davis Cup square from Serbia:

Nenad ZIMONJIC
Janko TIPSAREVIC
Novak DJOKOVIC
Ilija BOZOLJAC
Viktor TROICKI

So, you say Djokovic wins his 2 matches and lets the U.S. win doubles (not a given, but let's just say they feel overmatched against the Bryan brother superiority). That means you have who, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey - Querrey playing #1 loses to Djokovic (fine) byt Mardy Fish beats up on Tipsarevic, 14-12 in the fifth set. An exhausted Mardy Fish loses to Djokovic. But Sam Querrey, fresher because of his 4 set loss to Djokovic, takes out Tipsarevic, again in 5 sets, 14-12 in the fifth.

USA wins 3-2.

That's what they need. These guys need to prove that they are like Feliciano Lopez and F. Verdasco, whose Davis Cup opportunities made their careers better. Roddick and Blake have already proven enough (I am still not much of a believer when it comes to Blake's great Davis Cup record, but he owns it and it is good). It's time for generation next to show that there will be life post Roddick/Blake. As for Mardy Fish, good for him.

Posted by Net-Ties 01/11/2010 at 05:07 AM

think that Federer needs to step down from tennis. He is too stubborn to admit that he has slowed down, players are better than he is, and that he doesn't need a full-time coach. (Davis Cup coach isn't helping). He hasn't won a tournament since he became a father and that has disrupted his forcusing. Why hasn't the cold weather affected his arm in the past. Even his fans on his web site are upset with him. He said that he wants to win as many regular tournaments this year as well as the grand slams. Well, he has already lost 2-tournaments. First one was just an exhibition but so what. I am very upset with Federer and will no longer follow his matches.

Posted by lol 01/11/2010 at 08:09 AM

For crying out loud. Lol @ the phony Roddick fans. They didn't really mind seeing him
gain 20 pounds and injuring himself half a year since 2001. Now, they want to congratulate themselves with patriotism & self-aggrandizement.
1 trophy, that even losers Blake & Patrick considered was a joke.

Let us all forget you're a Federer and Blake fan. Poor Fed. Fed's not winning 3 events out of 30 gifts he received.

We've seen ARodwoeisme taking on 6 break points against Nadal & embarrassed himself again against Nadal in Miami. Let's have amnesia about his break points & ball landing on Roddick's side to give Federer the Miami win. A choke job loss in yet another Wimbledon final, after the bombastic semifinal tears he shed, was something Roddick felt was "good".

Posted by Glen 01/11/2010 at 10:55 AM

Exactly what foundation did James Blake help build for this Davis Cup team?

Posted by Mike 01/11/2010 at 11:01 AM

Can Tennis Magazine PLEASE stop publishing that ridiculous monthly gossip page in the actual magazine? It is an attempt at humor that falls flat each and every time. Once they made a nasty remark about Martina Hingis in terms of the alleged cocaine charge (not a way to treat a champion of her level, expecially when the charge was never proved). This month the magazine mentioned an update on Boris Becker's one-night stand that resulted in the birth of a child. Interesting with all the press you give on the personal lives of former players, that not one mention has been made of Chris Evert's absurd last couple of personal years. Gee, I wonder why that is . . . .

Posted by Voks 01/11/2010 at 03:08 PM

it ain't happening Andrew! ;)

Posted by CL 01/11/2010 at 09:24 PM

Can someone please supply a translation of what lol said at 8:09. It has something to do with Andy Roddick. I think. Or perhaps it is the secret of perpetual motion. Can't quite tell.

Posted by CL 01/11/2010 at 09:27 PM

Net-ties meet lol. lol Net ties. And Net Ties? Cincinnati.

Myla and Charlene say pppfffffft!


Good grief - why am I posting here...this is the time warp thread.

Posted by tarheel 01/11/2010 at 10:48 PM

did anyone watch Jay Leno tonight at ten? he showed an interview with Andy Roddick that showed two kaola (sp?) bears mating in the background! it was pretty funny!

Posted by randall 01/13/2010 at 12:22 AM

huge fans of both, and glad they wanna focues more on the masters and slams, but i am dissapointed, as i wanted the cup back

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