Las Vegas resident Sam Querrey will lead the newly minted Neon into the 2014 WTT season.
© Alex Smith
By Sandra Harwitt, special to USTA.com
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The setting at Petco Park in San Diego was sublime. The fans were enthusiastic and behind their guys – the U.S. Davis Cup squad – and the players gave the best they could muster during the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first-round tie against Great Britain.
But in the end, a British team with reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray on board proved too tough for the American squad of Sam Querrey, Donald Young and Bob and Mike Bryan, as determined as they were to win.
When Querrey eventually surrendered to Murray, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3, in the first reverse singles match on Sunday, the tie was over and the fifth match would not be played. Great Britain had secured an insurmountable 3-1 advantage over the U.S. and was heading to the quarterfinals in April.
“I feel good,” Querrey said after the match. “He’s one of the best players in the world, one of maybe the first or second best defensive players in the world. I felt like he had to come up with some good shots today to beat me. Overall, I felt like I played well and made him hit those shots to beat me.”
Querrey played tough tennis in the first two sets. He frustrated Murray through much of the first set – he rebounded with Murray leading 2-0 and 5-3 before eventually losing the set in the tiebreak. In the second set, there were no service breaks and Querrey controlled the breaker.
In the next two sets, however, Murray was the better player, taking a 4-0 lead in the third set. And from 2-2 in the fourth set, he only allowed Querrey to hold serve in the eighth game.
On Friday, the British jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Murray defeated Donald Young, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, and James Ward surprised Querrey, 1-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
On Saturday, the Bryans delivered the lone point of the weekend for the Americans, beating Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot, 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. But that still left the U.S. at 1-2 with a tough climb ahead. The Americans have only climbed out of a 1-2 hole to win a Davis Cup tie on five occasions in the past.
U.S. captain Jim Courier was eloquent in defeat, congratulating the opponents and complimenting his team. “First, obviously, we should congratulate the Brits on a tie well-played,” he said. “We went out and we laid it on the line. We gave our best effort all the way through.”
That said, it was clear the result left the Americans wanting, and unhappy to be on the outside of this year’s hunt for the Davis Cup trophy.
“We’re disappointed,” Courier said. “We don’t like to see our season end in February, but it is what it is. We’ll put it behind us. Hopefully the guys will put together a good season on the ATP circuit and build towards our qualifying match in September and we’ll keep our place in the World Group and get a shot at the title again next year.”
The U.S. has played in every World Group draw since 1989. The last time the Americans lost a first-round tie was away against Serbia in 2010. They then defeated Colombia, in Colombia, in the World Group Play-off to keep their spot in the main affair for 2011.
It’s interesting to note that this year’s World Group Play-off in September will feature five of the Davis Cup Top 10 nations, all fighting to retain a place at the upper-level of the competition. The other Top 10 nations joining the U.S. in the play-off round are Spain, Serbia, Argentina and Canada, all of which lost their first-round ties this weekend.