SANTIAGO, CHILE: USA has been waiting a long time for a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas home tie. In July, when the Americans take on Spain, potentially led by Rafael Nadal, it will be almost two and a half years since they played at home. It's the longest stretch without a home Davis Cup tie they have experienced since 1987.
There are three cities in the running for the World Group quarterfinal tie, being played on 8-10 July. Two are in Texas, San Antonio and Austin, Andy Roddick’s hometown, and San Antonio, and one in Albany, New York. The leading contender is certainly Austin, which has been pitching for a Davis Cup tie for some time, a push that has been spearheaded by Roddick.
“Obviously I appreciate the USTA considering it, it’s been something I’ve wanted for a long time,” Roddick said. “So, I appreciate the effort that’s been put in and hopefully we get it. It’s a matter of bids now, I’ve done what I could and hopefully we can get it there because it would be a dream come true.
“I have never been able to play at home and there never has been tennis there so it would be a really cool experience for me... and with a guy called Rafa in the Spanish side, it would be a blockbuster tie.”
So we wait to see how things unfold with the host city, but in the mean time there is certainly a new look in fashion stakes to the make-up of the American team, now that Jim Courier is at the helm. His debut as captain was a positive 4-1 win over Chile on clay in Santiago, with Roddick beating Paul Capdeville in the decisive fourth rubber.
“I don’t see this weekend having any lows, a lot of the stuff out there you might think is a low is a learning experience for my guys and myself,” Courier said. “I liked the way all of our guys responded to adversity out there.”
Roddick, the kingpin of the American players, was glowing in his praise for Courier. He said there was no awkward transition from Patrick McEnroe, the previous captain, and explained Courier has been “very open with his lines of communication.”
The American team is now a six man squad. The four guys who were in Santiago - Roddick, John Isner, and Bob and Mike Bryan – plus Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish, who are both nursing slight injuries and didn’t make the journey. Courier will decide on his teams for ties on a case by case basis, something Roddick is quite happy with.
“We will have the benefit of mixing and matching and we can have more match-ups. That’s what nations like France and Spain have been able to do because of their depth,” Roddick said. “We can protect ourselves and I’m excited. I’ve pretty much only been on four or five man teams but not six... we can pick each other up.”
The Americans will need that against Spain. “Clearly we’re going to have to play at our best,” said Courier. “Clearly we play against a nation with so much depth and you don’t have to go down the rankings very far to find them.”
Home court advantage will certainly be a benefit for USA. The home and away concept of Davis Cup epitomises the competition’s uniqueness and special aspect.
“There are a lot more home matches coming in our favour, it comes in waves and that’s a big part of Davis Cup in helping a nation win,” Courier added. “Home field advantage is a huge factor. You can’t lose with the three nominated cities, well we could lose the match but we will be there to battle.”