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By Jason Brown, USTA.com
As a former United States Davis Cup player, Captain Patrick McEnroe has a unique perspective and understanding of what it takes to compete and succeed in one of the most challenging team competitions in sports.
Following the United States’ dramatic 4-1 first round win over the Czech Republic, the U.S. Captain spoke with USTA.com to discuss the telling victory on the road in Ostrava and to answer questions on the upcoming quarterfinal rematch against Rafael Nadal and Spain, April 6-8, at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.USTA.com:
The United States Tennis Association has named the site for the quarterfinal tie: April 6-8 at the Joel Coliseum, an indoor stadium, in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Are you happy with the selection of Winston-Salem? What do you know about the fans and the city and what do you remember about it from Davis Cup play?
McEnroe: We had a great tie there back in 2001. The fans really came out and supported it. It was actually a relegation match against India. We're expecting a huge crowd there. It's a great facility, great town in the South. Traditionally North Carolina has been one of the great – they've supported Davis Cup really well.
It's the first time Andy Roddick and James Blake both played a match, a Davis Cup match, in singles, live matches. To have them come back with all this experience, have Bob and Mike on the team, obviously be playing Spain, marquee country, with we hope Nadal and the rest of their top guys, I think it will be a great event.
I think the indoor court suits both of our singles players as opposed to maybe playing on grass, which obviously would suit Andy. James is a little more comfortable on a hard court. I think for both of them, they'll be very comfortable. These guys can pretty much play on anything, so we're not worried about them (referring to the Bryans).
USTA.com: Considering what happened in the 2004 Davis Cup final in Seville and the state of the court in Spain, is there a special edge for you in this rematch?
McEnroe: I think we're looking forward to it. I think obviously we played them in a big match, it was the final. They made the court as much to their liking as they could, which you expect in Davis Cup. They should expect we'll do the same.
USTA.com: Historically, the first round tie was very significant for the team, winning an away match on clay. Do you see this victory in Ostrava as a potential turning point towards accomplishing something bigger?
McEnroe: I think when I took over I said that I wanted us to be in the hunt every year.
To do that, we needed a commitment from our best players. We've had that. We haven't quite been able to get all the way, but we've been pretty close. Winning a match like this is big.
But I think as you saw this weekend in Davis Cup, there wasn't one match that was 3-0. Every match was 2-1 going into the last day.
That tells you there's a lot of depth in the game. There are really not that many easy matches. You just have to take one match at a time. I think we've got as good a chance as anyone.
USTA.com: I was asking Andy if it was nice to get the away tie on clay out of the way first before you go home in April to take on Spain.
McEnroe: It's very nice. I mean, obviously we may – let's hope we have the opportunity to have another away tie later in the year. But to win a match against a good team away on clay I think is a big step for us.
Certainly to play Spain at home is an advantage for us. They still have great players; have proved they can play on other surfaces. We're still going to have to play our best. But we're certainly happy to be going home, particularly with the guys playing a lot of events coming up, being able to go straight from Miami at the Nasdaq-100 Open right to Winston Salem.
USTA.com: How impressed were you by what Andy achieved against the Czech Republic? He really stepped up his game, especially in the series-clinching rubber against a really top notch player in Tomas Berdych.
McEnroe: I was just so pleased with his performance, his attitude. I think it's one of his biggest wins, certainly in Davis Cup, one of his most impressive wins.
I think it's going to be a big boost for his confidence on all surfaces because he really had to fight hard. Berdych played a great first set.
Andy played well in the first set; just played one sort of loose game, got a couple let cords to break him.
But Andy, his confidence has really come a long way on this surface. I think that showed.
USTA.com: Andy made a great point when asked about his 8-0 unblemished record. He deflected it and he said it was because Bob and Mike gave him that opportunity. Do you feel now that you've had the same group of guys for five, six ties in a row, that there's something to that, that there are a number of team leaders on this squad?
McEnroe: Definitely. I think the guys really pull for each other. If one of them goes down on the first day, the other one usually pulls them up. That's happened in reverse for both guys a couple of times.
Obviously, these guys have been great for us, the Bryans. But it's certainly nice to have Andy come out up 2 1. I think he really relishes that opportunity, comes out and plays with a lot of confidence. As I said yesterday, Andy looks forward to these big matches. I think he really gets up for the big matches in slams but also in Davis Cup.
Today against a top notch opponent, we knew going in – Andy knew he had to play really well to win. That's the mark of a great player: when they know they have to play well, they know they have to step up, and they can do it.
Click here to read the U.S. vs. Spain Davis Cup Quarterfinal Preview.
Also, for more on the United States Davis Cup Team, visit the USTA.com Davis Cup homepage.