SAN DIEGO, CA, USA: The draw for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie between USA and Great Britain delivered a surprise on Thursday when Donald Young was selected to play instead of the ailing John Isner.
“We knew John was injured coming out of the Australian Open,”said US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier, noting that the 79th-ranked Young is the third highest ranked American player, and by reaching the third round of the Australian Open had the best result of any of the American men. “We called Donald last week and let him know that we would like him to be here with the team, and that it was pretty likely that he was going to be playing.”
Young, who has been a Davis Cup practice player in the past, will now make his Davis Cup playing debut as the No. 2 singles player behind the 49th-ranked Sam Querrey at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team.
“I’m excited to be playing and be part of the team and just have a chance to go out there and play,”Young said.“Hopefully I play well and, hopefully, get a win for the team.”
Young’s first match will deliver a test as he takes on Britain’s best, Andy Murray, the reigning Wimbledon champion in the opening match of the tie on Friday.
As expected, Britain’s captain Leon Smith is electing to play Murray as much as possible. He’ll not only play both singles matches, but will team with Colin Fleming in the doubles to face the world No. 1 duo of Bob and Mike Bryan.
“I obviously want to win as many matches as possible,”Murray said. “I’ll try to win as many points as I can. If I’m required to play all three days I’ll give it my best shot.”
For Murray, playing all three days will be demanding taking into account that coming into the 2014 season he was recuperating from back surgery last September.
“I’m feeling fine,”Murray said.”I’ve been surprised by the recovery. It’s a long process, it’s hard, it’s challenging mentally to come back from a surgery but I’ve trained hard and have done all the right rehab.”
The Bryan brothers, who have an impressive record in Davis Cup doubles action —Bob is 21-4 while Mike is 22-4 —are ready to face Murray and Fleming in the doubles on Saturday.
“Andy has played a lot of good doubles in the past,”Mike Bryan said. “He’s had great results, especially with Colin in doubles. He’s just a great tennis player all around. He can light up the return; volleys great; has great hands; good serve. We’ve been preparing for him all week.”
Smith also had to make a decision in who to play as his second player and ended up choosing James Ward instead of Kyle Edmund. Ward had a big impact in Great Britain returning to the Davis Cup World Group this year when he defeated Dmitry Tursunov in five sets in Britain’s 3-2 Europe/Africa Zone victory over Russia in 2013.
“I think James has played really well on this court the last few days,”Smith said. “I think the court suits him.”
Speaking of the court, the USA has decided on a clay court for this tie against Great Britain. Normally, the Americans have favored speedy hard courts when they’ve had the choice of ground, but this time around they decided to switch things up.
“We chose clay after consulting with the players when we found out we were hosting Great Britain,”Courier said. “Clay was the unanimous decision. We like to play on that surface and thought it gave us the best chance.”
Clay certainly wasn’t the surface Britain expected the Americans to pick.
“I don’t think it does their team particular favours, but obviously if you look at their team makeup…they have a good record on clay and good matches on clay,” Smith said.
The USA has played 89 Davis Cup ties on clay with a winning record of 63-26 on the surface. The British have played 104 ties on clay for a winning record of 62-42 on the dirt.
The USA and Great Britain rivalry is the oldest in Davis Cup history which dates back to the first Davis Cup competition in 1900. Team USA has an 11-7 winning record over Britain in Davis Cup and has won the last four ties played between the two nations.
The last time the two countries played delivered a tight 3-2 win to the USA at a first-round tie held in Birmingham, England in 1999. Courier won the tie for USA in a fifth and decisive rubber against Greg Rusedski, taking the match 8-6 in the fifth set.
The USA is the most successful nation in Davis Cup with 32 Davis Cup titles, winning their last title in 2007 over Russia.
Great Britain has won nine Davis Cup titles. However, their last Davis Cup victory came back in 1936 with Fred Perry guiding the team to victory.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Donald Young (USA) v Andy Murray (GBR)
R2: Sam Querrey (USA) v James Ward (GBR)
R3: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) v Colin Fleming/Andy Murray (GBR)
R4: Sam Querrey (USA) v Andy Murray (GBR)
R5: Donald Young (USA) v James Ward (GBR)
Sam Querrey (USA) - 30/01/2014
Donald Young (USA) - 30/01/2014
Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) - 30/01/2014
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 30/01/2014
Andy Murray (GBR) - 30/01/2014
James Ward (GBR) - 30/01/2104
Captain Leon Smith (GBR) - 30/01/2014