World Group action starts in


28 January 2012

Americans set for Swiss time



  • Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Ron AngleCaptain Jim Courier and Mike Bryan (USA)

Initially it was just billed as a chat with USA's Davis Cup captain Jim Courier to reflect on the upcoming Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie for the American and Swiss media at the Australian Open.

It was not meant to be an announcement on who would play for USA against Switzerland, who have already revealed they’re fielding a team anchored by 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and former Top 10 player Stanislas Wawrinka. But in the end, Courier was given the go ahead to spill the squad he’s taking to Fribourg.

“It’s not really a mystery as the flights have been booked,” Courier said. “I’m going with Mardy (Fish), John (Isner), Ryan (Harrison) and Mike (Bryan). Bob (Bryan), as you all must know, his wife is giving birth sometime today potentially as today is her due date. Bob thought he needs to be home.”

Courier is under no illusions as to how tough the trip to Switzerland is going to be for the Americans. He’s going with the intention of playing Fish and Isner in singles, but isn’t as sure about the doubles. However, his instinct tells him it’s likely to be Fish and Bryan doing the tandem trot.

“We have about the toughest draw you can have in Davis Cup when you look at what our potential draw looks like from the location and the team standpoint,” Courier said. “But you have to get by round one, that’s the ultimate test to go up against Roger and Stan, or Spain or Argentina.

“It’s going to be a big battle for our guys but we have nothing to lose. We have to go out there and lay it on the line and we know we’re the underdogs.”

If the Americans can bypass the Swiss, who will have a home court advantage on the indoor clay surface being created for the upcoming Fed Cup and Davis Cup ties, they would go on to face the winner of the first round tie between France and Canada which takes place in Vancouver.

And the potential semifinal opponent for that side of the draw are the reigning champions Spain, a weighty task for any country.

Courier’s heading into his sophomore year as the American Davis Cup captain. He’s of the opinion that the experience from his inaugural season will serve him well in leading the squad in 2012.

“I have more working knowledge of these players,” Courier said. “I’ve been on the bench with three of the four that will be with us and that’s a big advantage for me as a captain and a probably a sense of comfort for them.

"That will be important because there were times (last year) I was learning on the trot how to manage John and Mardy in the heat of battle and how they handle those situations. It’s a delicate place to be when you don’t know how they react.

“I have a better idea how they’re going to react now and I hope that will make me a better captain.”

Harrison, 19, is most likely to be a bench warmer, but his improving form makes him a good choice in the case a substitute is needed. Harrison capably took Andy Murray to four sets in a first round match at the Australian Open.

“It’s very unlikely the third singles player is going to play but we need someone,” Courier said. “Ryan is healthy, he’s hungry, he’s eager and he’ll be ready to go. I have confidence he’ll be fine if we need him.”

Andy Roddick, who has guided USA’s Davis Cup effort for much of the last decade - he led the team to the last of the USA's record 32 Davis Cup titles, in 2007 - left Australia nursing a hamstring injury. While he won’t be on the Davis Cup first round team, he’s left his possible participation open for the rest of the year.

“I talked to Andy what he wanted to do about Davis Cup and he wasn’t going to be available for the first round,” Courier said. “He’s done a lot for Davis Cup during his career, sacrificed a lot schedule-wise, at this stage he wanted to have a little more easy schedule at the beginning of the year and he’s earned that right.

“What I wanted from him, and what we have from him, was not to close the door and say that if I’m not playing the first round I’m not playing all year. He should have the freedom to come and go as he pleases for his availability and we’d love to have him back on the team.”

But before the American squad can look ahead they need to take out a guy name Federer, on his own turf, in the first round. That will be a tall order, but as everyone knows in Davis Cup, anything can happen so there’s no point in predicting the outcome before it happens.

The action gets under at Forum Fribourg, an indoor venue with a capacity of 7,500 seats, on 10 February at 1pm local time. Live streaming of the tie is available throughout the weekend on the official Davis Cup video website: 

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