By Jason Brown, USTA.com
PORTLAND, Ore. – American Andy Roddick will put his perfect 2007 Davis Cup singles record on the line in the opening match of the 2007 World Group Final as he takes on a familiar foe, Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
The official order of play was announced Thursday at the draw ceremony held at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Portland.
In search of a record 32nd Davis Cup title against defending champions Russia, the United States are excited to compete in their first home final in 15 years.
After three challenging rounds, including a pair of contentious road series’ on European soil, the team has a golden opportunity to bring home the Cup.
“I'm excited for these guys because we've been to a lot of different places around the world to play Davis Cup ties,” said U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe. “We've been in the final. We've had to go to Spain, play a great team there on clay, which was obviously a tough task.”
“So to play at home, this has been a goal of the team for a long time. We'll all be a little bit nervous I'm sure tomorrow. That's a good thing. We'll just try to keep an even keel while at the same time sort of using the energy of the crowd and the energy of the moment. It's here in front of us.
I'm just hoping that these guys go out and go for it because we've had an unbelievable week in practice. We're just going to go out there and try to make it happen. We're not going to wait for it to happen; we're going to go try to make it happen.” ORDER OF PLAY
Friday, November 30 at 1:00 pm Pacific
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
James Blake (USA) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
Saturday, December 1 at 12:30 pm Pacific
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs.
Igor Andreev/Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Sunday, December 2 at 1:00 pm Pacific
Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
James Blake (USA) vs. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
The biggest surprise of the draw, fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko, the highest-ranked Russian, was a surprise omission by team captain Shamil Tarpischev.
Benched in favor of Tursunov, he could still play a role in the tie, selected with teammate Igor Andreev to play in the doubles rubber. Tarpischev also has the option of subbing Davydenko back in to play in the reverse singles on Sunday.
“We were not surprised by the selections for the singles,” said McEnroe. “I do not expect that to be the doubles team. The Russians, one of their strengths is they have a lot of versatile players. It certainly wouldn't surprise us to see him at some point in the weekend.”
Roddick and Tursunov last met in Davis Cup play in the 2006 semifinals. Held in Moscow on a slow indoor red clay surface, the five-set epic was won by Tursunov and lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes, the longest singles match in the history of the competition since the introduction of the tiebreak in 1989.
On a mission all year long to win the Davis Cup, Roddick doesn’t need extra motivation when he takes the court on Friday.
“I don't need any added hunger, I promise you that,” said Roddick. “I don't see a lot of relevance between the two just because of how different the court surfaces are. So I think people will be talking about it a lot more than I'm thinking about it. I'm just going out and looking to try to get us the lead.”
The No. 1-nominated singles player, Roddick carries an impressive 25-9 Davis Cup singles record, and is a perfect 5-0 this year over three rounds. The team closer, Roddick carries an unblemished 9-0 record when given the chance to clinch a tie for his country.
This year, Roddick clinched the first round win on the road over the Czech Republic, and earned the U.S. a berth in the World Group Final with a convincing straight-set, 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over Swede Jonas Bjorkman in the Gothenburg semifinal.
After tasting success so early in his career with a title run at the US Open, Roddick has picked up where Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras left off, making himself available for Davis Cup competition time and time again.
“The two are on par in my mind as far as accomplishments,” said Roddick, who won the US Open at 21 years old. “It might be just that much more special because we've kind of shared this journey, you know, for the last seven years.”
Play begins Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern Time at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum and features two singles matches that will be best-of-five sets.
Following the first match, American No. 2 James Blake will take on top-nominated Russian Mikhail Youzhny whom he is a career 0-1 against, a 2006 encounter on clay.
“I think it takes a great deal of mental toughness to be in any situation that we're in,” said Blake. “I'm proud of the effort I've put into this point and I'm happy with my preparation.”
Saturday’s doubles match features Bob and Mike Bryan, a remarkable 12-1 in Davis Cup competition, against Davydenko and Andreev.
The California twins are quickly moving up the career doubles win list. Winners of their past seven Davis Cup matches, the Bryan twins can tie U.S. legends Bob Lutz and Stan Smith for third all-time if they win their point this weekend.
“It's everything to be competing for this Davis Cup title,” said left-hander Bob Bryan. “We've wanted to win this since we were 10 years old. I'd trade any Grand Slam for this title right here, to win it for these guys.”
The final wraps up on Sunday with the reverse singles. A match-up of team number ones, Roddick is set to play Youzhny followed by Blake against Tursunov.
Versus will begin live daily coverage at 4 pm ET on Friday and Sunday and 3:30 pm ET on Saturday.
Tennis Channel will continue its Davis Cup primetime tradition, re-airing coverage daily at 8 pm ET.
Davis Cup Final Viewing Parties
For tennis fans without tickets to the sold out three-day series at The Memorial Coliseum, viewing parties are being held at several locations in Portland.
The Portland Center for the Performing Arts (1037 SW Broadway), which hosted the official Draw Ceremony, will provide prime viewing of all finals' matches, as well as the On Deck Sports Bar (910 NW 14th St.).