RELATED: U.S. Davis Cup Team Announcement Press Release
RELATED: U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe Transcript
RELATED: Single-session tickets on sale for Davis Cup quarterfinal
By Jason Brown, USTA.com
U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe formally announced Thursday the make-up of the squad that will face France in the 2008 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Quarterfinal at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C., April 11-13.
Set to play in their record tenth consecutive tie together, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob Bryan, and Mike Bryan received nominations.
As part of the festivities, the team will be presented with their 2007 Davis Cup championship gold rings, and the Davis Cup trophy will be on site as part of the opening ceremonies.
Quarterfinal tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the USTA Davis Cup hotline at (888) 484-8782 (USTA)
or online at Ticketmaster
Additionally, single-day tickets will go on sale on Sunday, March 30, at 8 a.m.
The blockbuster best-of-five series carries significant weight with a berth in the World Group semifinals on the line.
The winner advances to face either Germany or Spain, September 19-21.
If the United States moves on to the next round, they are guaranteed to play an away match staged on European soil.
Teammates Roddick, Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan are healthy and match-ready, having played at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif. followed by the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.
Following a sensational finals’ run at Indian Wells, including a stunning upset of world No. 1 Roger Federer in the semifinals, 26-year-old Mardy Fish is on McEnroe’s radar screen, but will be hard-pressed to crack the current roster.
Fish, who served as a practice partner at the 2007 Davis Cup Final in Portland, will serve in that role again. He will be joined by Michael McLune, a top American junior.
The Davis Cup Quarterfinals are scheduled for the week after the conclusion of the Sony Ericsson Open.
“I think the key is obviously for Andy and James to play well in the big tournaments and hopefully to stay healthy and take care of themselves, which they do, and gear up for Winston Salem after Miami,” said McEnroe.
The U.S. last played France six years ago in the 2002 Davis Cup semifinals.
Staged on the fabled crushed red clay of Roland Garros, the site of the French Open, the hosts defeated the U.S., 3-2.
Played during McEnroe’s second season as captain, it was a year before Blake and Roddick established themselves as prime-time players and the Bryan brothers had cemented their role on the team as doubles specialists,
Meanwhile, Roddick and Blake had yet to establish themselves as steady Top 10 players.
“Andy and James struggled early in their Davis Cup careers, especially in the away matches, mainly because of learning to control their emotions,” said McEnroe.
“The emotions of the up and down nature of Davis Cup, playing five sets, and the other team making it as tough an environment as they can. Partly, that’s the crowd and a lot because of the surface.
Now, I think they just handle everything better – they’re more stable. They understand that there’s going to be some tough patches and matches and you sort of have to stay the course.
They’ve come so far from being the young guys that would get all emotional that cost them some matches. That experience that they’ve had over the years and us knowing each other well and that we’ve been through this a bunch of times together has really helped us.”
Down 0-2, Blake and Todd Martin kept the U.S. alive with a five-set victory over Fabrice Santoro and Llodra in the doubles rubber.
Then, in Sunday’s decisive match, a then 19-year-old Roddick fell to Sebastien Grosjean in four sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Two members of the 2002 French team, Clement and Llodra, stand an excellent chance of being nominated to play against the Bryan twins.
One of the best doubles team in the world, Clement and Llodra prevented the Bryans from hoisting the Wimbledon trophy in 2007, defeating them in the final.
Carrying a nine-match winning streak into the 2008 quarterfinals, the Bryans are on a fast-track toward being considered the greatest U.S. doubles pair of all-time.
At 14-1, the Bryans have equaled the mark set by two U.S. pairs – John McEnroe and partner Peter Fleming, and Wilmer Allison and John Van Ryn.
“It's a great honor to have one of the best records in Davis Cup just because we value Davis Cup a lot and we put a hell of a lot of energy into it,” said Mike Bryan.
“Luckily we're 14 1 and had some good fortune. I think we've played some of our best tennis in Davis Cup, which we're really proud of.”
They can shatter the long-standing team record against France, but it won’t come easy.
Young phenom Richard Gasquet and 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are likely to get the nod from Captain Guy Forget to play singles for France.
Against Roddick and Blake, the action on Friday and Sunday figures to produce fascinating match-ups involving four players all currently ranked in the men’s Top 15.
“France has some different players now, some talented and charismatic young players, which I think will make it a great tie,” said McEnroe.
“Not only do they have a great team, but great individual players with a lot of flair.”
“We've got a little more experience than they do. I think there are some similarities. Llodra and Clement are one of the best teams in the world in doubles, and we've got the best team – Makes it like every match could almost be like a Grand Slam semi or final.”
In 2007, the city of Winston-Salem hosted a quarterfinal tie between the U.S. and Spain. Backed by a boisterous sold-out crowd, the Americans cruised to victory, 4-1.
“We're hoping to have the same kind of crowd,” said McEnroe. “When we played Spain last year, it was one of the best crowds we've ever had in the U.S. We hope to fill the Joel Coliseum again and make it nice and loud and noisy for the French.”