RELATED: United States Win Record 32nd Davis CupRELATED: All-Time Davis Cup Champions
By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Portland, Ore. – The United States officially became the 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas champion Sunday, hoisting the historic trophy before a sold-out Memorial Coliseum.
A day after celebrating the series-clinching match, the U.S. substituted Bob Bryan to play reverse singles for Andy Roddick, and with it, the chance to sweep Russia.
A mere formality on a memorable day dedicated to the determination and spirit of the host country, the American southpaw fell to Russian substitute Igor Andreev in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(4).
The final match of the best-of-five series, James Blake came back from a set down to defeat Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, to earn his second point of the weekend. On Friday, with the U.S. holding an early 1-0 lead, Blake won a pivotal point for his country, putting the Bryans in position to clinch.
Overall, the United States defeated Russia, 4-1, in the best-of-five World Group series.
Following the series finale, U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe and the team were formally presented with the prestigious Davis Cup trophy. The highest honor in international men’s team tennis, the Americans gathered around the massive trophy which will soon have their names etched on it.
“I'm going to savor this for the rest of my life,” said McEnroe, who later received a text message from 1995 Davis Cup hero Pete Sampras and his older brother, John McEnroe, congratulating the team.
Presented with the trophy by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jane Brown Grimes, red white & blue confetti streamed down on the court as the Americans celebrated the victory.
“We got the Cup. We got to touch the Cup. We were being a little superstitious about not touching it before it was actually ours,” said Blake.
“Last night it was pretty quick that we started the celebration, and exciting and just didn't really have time to think about it and let it sink in. And now after sleeping on it, maybe not sleeping enough, but sleeping a little bit on it and getting up today and then seeing that wonderful ceremony and actually having the trophies in our possession and everything, its definitely more real.”
Russia, the 2006 champions who had scraped and clawed to reach the final for the second straight year, received their runner-up trophies, and were gracious visitors in defeat.
“I think that everything went in accordance with our expectations,” said Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev. “This is how we had everything lined up, and everything was basically how we thought it would turn out to be. As to what happened during this weekend, I wouldn't have changed anything. I would have done the same.”
Playing without arguably their best big-match player, former US Open and Australian Open winner Marat Safin, the Russians couldn’t field their best team, in both singles and doubles.
“As to the strengthening of our team, we have a player, (Marat) Safin,” said Tarpsichev. “He is preparing for the next season now. We have five equally strong players, and they're preparing to play on different types of surfaces. This is our strong point.”
After teaming with Nikolay Davydenko in the doubles loss to the Bryan twins on Saturday, Andreev filled in for Mikhail Youzhny and won a small measure of redemption, improving his Davis Cup singles record to 9-3.
Team captains had the option to substitute their reverse singles players up to an hour before match time at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.
Bob Bryan, 2-2 in his Davis Cup singles career, played in his third dead rubber this year. He defeated Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic in the first round, and suffered his first loss at the hands of Spain’s Tommy Robredo in the quarterfinals held in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The most important win of their Davis Cup careers, the Bryan brothers’ win encapsulated five years of hard work and dedication.
“I just feel like was an incredible goal of the team,” said Bob Bryan. “We had great teams, but it comes down to a little bit of luck with the home matches and surface and balls and fans. I feel extremely lucky to have had a chance to play a home tie in a final. I still can’t really describe how it feels…it’s been a whirlwind since we won.”
At 13-1, the Bryans are now just one victory short of matching John McEnroe and Peter Fleming for the all-time U.S. combined doubles record. With no intention of ever leaving the team, the twins will get their first shot when the U.S. travels to Vienna, Austria in February for the 2008 first round.
“We’re definitely lifers,” said Bob Bryan. “I feel like in Davis Cup its doubles’ biggest stage, so why wouldn’t we want to be out here playing for our country. It’s the most fun we have in tennis, period. We’re going to be out here for this team forever, I think.”
A challenging draw, if the Americans can beat Austria on indoor clay, they are projected to host France in the quarterfinals before potentially traveling to Spain in an extremely-difficult semifinal match-up.
Still, with the four-man nucleus of the team presumably intact, Bryan likes the chances of the team to repeat as Davis Cup champions.
“It’s going to be tough to win two singles matches against a Spain or an Argentina,” said Bob Bryan. “They’ve got some incredible players, monsters. If we get one of those teams we’re probably going to be severe underdogs. But know that those guys will down there with an open mind and give it 110 percent.”
For Bryan and his teammates, last night’s celebration went deep into the evening. After heading back to the team hotel for dinner and time for reflection, the Americans took to the streets of downtown Portland for a late-night party at McFadden’s filled with drinks and dancing.
“We had a blast celebrating,” said Bob Bryan. “We spent a couple of hours here just dumping champagne, beer, Coke, everything. We took it back to the team hotel, played cards, watched TV, ordered pizzas, burgers. We had all out friends and family come to the hotel and celebrated with them for another three or four hours.
“Then we went out to McFadden’s, a local spot. There were at least 200 of all of our buddies. Danced, did everything. I left around 1:00 am because I knew I was probably going to be on the card today. But I guess Robby Ginepri got back at 5:00 in the morning. Some guys went a little deeper.”
There, Roddick acquitted himself as the best dancer on the team, while practice partner Robby Ginepri stayed out well past midnight, arriving back at the team hotel just before sun-rise.
“Andy’s pretty good,” admitted Bob Bryan. “I guess his maid had some rhythm growing up and she taught him a lot of good moves. He’s got like Jackson 5 moves down. He was dancing. I was dancing. Mike was dancing. It was a full dance floor. A lot of people were out of their mind last night.”
The City of Portland and the three-day crowd that sold out in a matter of minutes when tickets for the final were released, shined during the week and put on a world-class show.
“The fans were amazing,” said McEnroe.
“I think they're a very tennis knowledgeable crowd. I've been saying it all week, really all year, I think it speaks to just the commitment of the team over the years and people see how much these guys care, their passion for playing. So I think slowly but surely over the last few years that's sort of built. “It's happened in other cities, as well. But obviously Portland, the people came out and really supported it.”
Final score: United States 4, Russia 1.