The team at the official dinner, posing with the beloved motorcyle
© Susan Mullane
The Bryans celebrate their victory
© Susan Mullane
Roddick clinches the win
© Getty Images
Entry No. 5: “On To Croatia”
Sunday, March 8 – I’m really proud of Andy. Not just what he’s accomplished as a player, but he’s getting better and improving as a player, and I think we saw that today.
The way he combined offense and defense, and the way he made the right decisions on the court at different times over the match was really impressive.
He played such a composed, all-court match. It was great to see because I know how hard he’s been working. All you can ask for out of any athlete is to improve and keep getting better. And obviously, he relishes these situations to play with a great crowd and in a position to clinch a tie, which he did again.
His new coach, Larry Stefanki, has done a great job with him. More than anything, I just feel that Andy is making the right decisions. He’s worked on different parts of his game, and it’s so nice seeing it all come together at the right time.
He’s using his backhand slice, he’s coming in at the right time and being aggressive with the forehand when he can, while playing great defense. He’s understanding that there are many different ways to win a point.
It’s been an awesome week here in Birmingham. The crowd has been phenomenal, and the hospitality second to none. They treated us real well, and we’re certainly happy about coming here. It’s certainly another place that we’d be excited about coming back to.
But first things first, we have a huge match in the quarterfinals away against Croatia. That’s going to be a difficult match for us to win, but if we can get past that one, we’ll see where we’d end up from there.
In terms of our scheduling, it’s going to be a quick turnaround. The good news is that we’ll be in Europe, and we’ll be in the same time zone. That’s usually the hardest thing to adapt to. But, certainly, the Croatians will have to deal with it, too. They have some players who can do very well on grass at Wimbledon. So we’ll get over there as quick as we can and get ready to play as quickly as possible.
I remember back to last year when we traveled to Madrid for the semifinals and suffered the late drop-outs because of injury to James and Mike.
We’re always worried about wear and tear because of how much tennis these guys play. Certainly after the clay-court and grass-court seasons, it’s going to be something to keep an eye on. But we’ve been pretty lucky, overall, and our guys take such good care of themselves physically, so hopefully we’ll have a full arsenal of our players ready to go.
Finally, for everyone going to watch the tennis coming up in Indian Wells, Andy, James and the Bryans will all be there. But also make sure you check out the qualifying tournament. One of our practice partners, Alex Domijan, will be participating in qualifying, and we’re really excited about his potential. He’s working with one of our top coaches, Jose Higueras, and we’re continuing to monitor his development.
Entry No. 4: “Five More Years of the Bryans”
Saturday, March 7 –It was a tough match today, but the bottom line is that we’d much rather be up 2-1 than down 2-1.
Even as a former Davis Cup doubles player, it’s hard for me to give advice to the top-ranked team in the world.
I don’t give the guys much advice, but they’re always receptive when I do say something. They kind of help me coach them, really. There are a few key reminders that we try to remind them of.
Even during the week of practice, we work on simple things about returns and what they do on the serve, and they seem to like that, to be reminded of the little things. But obviously, they’re so good at understanding doubles and working with each other, that in a lot of ways, they coach each other as well.
The Bryans mentioned in their press conference after their huge win today in doubles that they could see themselves playing another five years.
As their captain, that would be awesome if they did. I admire them so much for how much they put into every match in Davis Cup, and they’ve delivered for us countless times.
So to see them going up the list of history is great to see because they really deserve it and earned it. Now maybe, we can get Andy to get one match past Agassi, which would be a pretty historical weekend for the team.
Years ago, I might’ve had to keep an eye on Andy before a match like he has coming up tomorrow, but now he’s pretty experienced in these situations, much calmer and relaxed. Hopefully, we’ll use that energy in a positive way tomorrow.
Wawrinka has obviously played great this weekend, and we’re certainly expecting a tough match. Andy had a good day of rest today, and got some good work in yesterday in his win over Marco Chiudinelli. So he’ll be good to go.
And if he’s needed tomorrow, James will be – and has to be – ready as well. That’s part of the deal. James will bounce back. It was a disappointing match for him on Friday, but look at how well Wawrinka even played in the doubles today. So he’ll certainly be ready to go if we need him.
The guys on the team don’t really do much scoreboard-watching, but we did see that Croatia clinched their first round series today. We knew we’d be going away for that match, wherever we were going, but obviously we need to take care of business here. We have a very tough day ahead of us tomorrow, so if we can get through that, hopefully, we’ll be ready in July.
Entry No. 3: “One Of The All-Time Points That I’ve Seen”
Friday, March 6 – That point in the tie-break was pretty amazing. You’re just trying to get out of that and finish it off in three sets. Andy just dug deep.
Both guys hustled incredibly and it was one of the all-time points that I’ve seen in Davis Cup, and very exciting for it to happen in the tie-break. As Andy said, it really helped him win that third set, getting that mini-break.
It’s pretty awesome to hear that Andy has tied Andre Agassi, who had one of the all-time great Davis Cup careers. I think even Andy’s humbled by it. He should certainly be very proud of it – he’s been there for so many matches. So that was awesome to see, and hopefully, he can break it and go past Andre this weekend.
We’re going to need that win on Sunday for sure, and we’ll need the Bryans to pull through for us as well. That’s a huge match for them. It’s nice to see them back, Bob having missed a match in Spain, and they’ve certainly been an awesome team for us.
And again, we wouldn’t want anyone else out there for us down 0-1 than Andy Roddick. And we wouldn’t want anybody else out there for us in the doubles at one-all with a lot on the line than the Bryan brothers. So I think because of that, I feel pretty good about the rest of the weekend.
For those of you wondering about James, he’ll be fine. It was a tough loss, but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Wawrinka who played a heck out of a match.
But we’ll turn James around, and he’ll have no problem getting motivated if we need him on Sunday. This is what Davis Cup is about. Sometimes you lose one and then come back and win a big one on Sunday. It’s happened to Andy, it’s happened to James, and we just have to be ready for anything this weekend.
Entry No. 2: “Late-Night Stop at Waffle House”
Thursday, March 5 – It was nice to see James draw the first match of the weekend series – it’s been awhile. Andy gets a little impatient, but he’s been through this enough. If James can win that first match against Swiss No. 1 Stanislas Wawrinka, it’ll give us a big leg up.
Although we’re not facing Roger Federer this weekend, I’m not worried about any let down from the guys. When we play Davis Cup, particularly at home with the huge crowd that we’re expecting, I don’t think there’s any danger of that.
The bigger goal is to try to get back in the hunt and try to win this thing again. We’re certainly aware of how well their guys can play and respect them a lot.
Last night, we had the official team dinner at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. A team tradition, we had the practice partners take the stage and give a speech.
I thought that Alex Domijan, our rookie, came through. He was pretty quiet but composed. He’s been a great practice partner, and I think he’s got a tremendous upside in his game. I thought he handled himself pretty well – you always learn a lot about a rookie when they’ve got to go up there and make a speech.
They had all of these vintage motorcycles and sports cars there. It was actually one of the better places that we’ve ever been to for the dinner. It was very cool. We spent a little bit of extra time and walked around and looked at the site.
We were thinking about taking the motorcycles back to the hotel. We ended up stopping at the Waffle House on the way. We had quite an experience there at about 10:30-11 p.m., so we had some fun at the Waffle House. There’s nothing like the U.S. Davis Cup team eating some late-night eggs and waffles together -- a really good bonding experience.
This afternoon, we’ll have a nice 45-minute hit for each guy, just to loosen up. The week of practice has been great, and everyone’s feeling pretty sharp. So a nice easy hit today and then get ready to go after it tomorrow.
By the way, you’ll notice that in our team photos from the draw, we’re wearing our new Davis Cup warm-up outfits. The guys all love them, and we’d like to thank the USTA for them.
Entry No. 1: “Everyone Can Support The U-S-A”
Wednesday, March 4 – Welcome back everyone to another edition of the Captain’s Blog. It’s a thrill being here with the U.S. Davis Cup Team in Birmingham, Alabama.
Even though we’re in the middle of college football country with Alabama and Auburn universities nearby, we’re excited to give these fans a taste of Davis Cup tennis.
It’s a unique opportunity for them to see professional tennis. To be able to see the United States and Switzerland play is a big deal for them. The fans are into choosing sides in the big rivalry – Alabama and Auburn – but everyone can go out and support the USA.
I think we’re going to have a great turn-out and the fans will be into it. That’s what we really look for when we put together a home match – a community that will really get behind us.
The court conditions here at the BJCC Arena are to our liking and the guys have looked fine in practice. Andy arrived here with a lot of confidence and has been playing a lot of matches. James is coming back from an ankle problem but he’s now at 100 percent. For him, it’s importance to get his reps and get his movement back to where it needs to be.
We had an open practice Monday and the fans and community here have been great. Their support since the beginning has been fantastic and people seem genuinely excited having us here, and that rubs off on us. We’re looking forward to a fun weekend and the guys seem really relaxed and comfortable.
It’s neat seeing Andy come out and play a couple sets of doubles today with the Bryan brothers and Alex Domijan, one of our practice partners.
I’m really excited about Domijan’s potential. He’s a 17-year-old from Wesley Chapel, Fla. and currently ranked No. 1 in the boys’ 18s and No. 14 in the ITF World Junior Rankings. He reached the semifinals at the Orange Bowl and won the Eddie Herr last year.
He plays a very good game – he’s solid all-around. He needs to work on his serve. It’s something that we’ve already been working on together. I really like his attitude. He seems very professional and I think he’s very driven and I like the way he plays. He’s got a good solid game and moves pretty well for someone his size (Domijan is 6 feet 7 inches tall). He’s definitely shown us something this week.
I’ve noticed that with his shot selection, he doesn’t go for too much if its not there. He’s technically very sound and has good hands at the net. He seems to do everything well. He’s seventeen, so obviously he’ll get stronger and thicker as he grows into his body.