Captain Mardy Fish 'excited' to bring balanced U.S. Davis Cup team to Reno
Captain Mardy Fish has named a well-balanced squad for Team USA’s Davis Cup by Rakuten Qualifier against Colombia in March. Representing the Stars and Stripes in Reno will be a five-man team that includes the American No. 1 singles player in Taylor Fritz and a doubles duo—Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram—with eight Grand Slam titles and three Olympic medals between them.
Sebastian Korda—the youngest selection, at 21—is in line for his Davis Cup debut, while Tommy Paul returns to the U.S. team for the second time.
“We’re excited to get to Reno,” Fish told USTA.com. “It's a super cool area. I’ve spent a lot of time there it seems like every year now in the summer, going over to Tahoe. It's an awesome part of the country that we're excited to bring some professional tennis to.”
While the three likely singles players—Fritz, Korda and Paul—are all at or near career-highs in the ATP Rankings, Fish may be most excited about his new-look doubles pairing. Playing together for the first time at the 2021 Finals in Turin, Sock and Ram showed off an instinctive partnership in a straight-set victory over the host Italians, beating Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Musetti.
“I was really happy with them, to say the least, with how Rajeev and Jack played together,” Fish said. “Jack is obviously one of the best, if not the best doubles player in the world and Rajeev is clearly playing at a high level as well. The only issue was, can they play together? And man, were they impressive over there in Italy. So that was nice as a captain to check that box in terms of the doubles, with that being so important now, especially.”
In Fish’s playing days, he had the luxury of teaming up with the Bryan brothers in Davis Cup, who proved to be close to an automatic win for the doubles point. The captain sees similar potential in the Sock-Ram duo, with doubles taking on added significance at the reinvented Davis Cup Finals as one of just three points on offer (as opposed to in current qualifiers and in the previous iteration of the Finals, where it was one of five points).
On the singles side, Fish was spoiled for choice in his selections thanks to the great depth of American talent. Seven Americans are currently in the ATP’s Top 50, and 12 are inside the Top 100—both the most of any nation.
Fritz leads the way at a career-high of No. 19. The SoCal native closed out 2021 with three deep tournament runs at the Indian Wells Masters (semifinals), the St. Petersburg ATP 250 (final) and the Paris Masters (quarterfinals) to earn the distinction of American No. 1. But despite that title, the 24-year-old said he won’t take too much pride until he climbs further up the rankings.
Fish, who achieved a career-high of world No. 7 himself, loves that attitude: “Never be satisfied. Understand how far you've come, understand the work that you've put in. Embrace that, but never be satisfied with your ranking or getting into the Top 20 or anything like that.
“My captain when I had my best years, Jim Courier, I'll never forget. He sent me a text the first time I made the Top 10 and mentioned something about that—embrace it and appreciate it, but don't be satisfied. And so it seems like Taylor has the right attitude in that regard.”
Fritz continued to build on his finish to 2021 with a career-best Grand Slam performance at this year's Australian Open. He defeated Frances Tiafoe and Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time, where he fell in five sets to world No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“Taylor seems to be turning a corner in terms of his ability to beat guys that he's supposed to beat,” Fish explained, speaking about his success in recent months. “I feel like he struggled with that a little bit over the last couple of years. You can really build an incredible career in beating players you’re supposed to be every time and he's starting to do that, which is why we're seeing the successes he's had.”
Korda also had a strong Australian Open. The 2018 boys’ singles champ in Melbourne, he reached the third round in his men’s main-draw debut, convincingly beating world No. 12 Cameron Norrie in the first round. Set to make his Davis Cup debut, the Florida native sits at No. 44 in the ATP Rankings, six places off his career-high from October.
“We’re just really excited to get him in the mix,” Fish said, “because I think he'll be phenomenal moving forward for us in the present and future of the U.S. Davis Cup team.”
Paul, who recently hit a career-high of No. 41, won his first ATP title in November on the indoor hard courts of Stockholm. He also notched a victory at the Australian Open and reached two quarterfinals in Adelaide to start the new season.
Fish described the 24-year-old as “an incredible athlete” and “more of a counterpuncher” compared to the rest of the squad.
“One of the things that I love about him is he is very passionate about Davis Cup,” the captain said, explaining that pride for the competition is among the most important trait he wants to see from his players. “He’s beyond excited to be joining us again.”
Speaking more generally on the topic of pride and passion, he added: “We've got five guys that absolutely want to be a part of it and want to play big-time Davis Cup tennis for their country. That will be the goal.”
Whether it’s counter-punching or first-strike tennis, Fish is looking forward to seeing everyone on the indoor hard court in the Reno altitude, conditions he expects will benefit the team’s big games and aggressive tactics.