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02 March 2011

Experience and new blood for Americans



  • Craig Gabriel

Photo: Ron AngleAndy Roddick (USA)

SANTIAGO, CHILE: The American team that will take on Chile for the fifth time in the first round of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is a combination of experience and a touch of newish blood.

Twenty years after his debut as a player in the first round against Mexico in Mexico City, Jim Courier makes his debut as a captain in Santiago.

As a player Jim Courier had a very solid record in Davis Cup. Other than his last tie, which was against Australia in Boston in 1999, every time he was in the USA side, they won and there were 13 of those team triumphs. His win-loss record as a player was 16-10 in singles and 1-0 in doubles.

Courier has transitioned from player to team coach to captain, a career he is naturally very proud of.  He joked that the “way my body feels” he’s more than happy to be on the bench and let others do the work.

“As far as being captain, this is a great gig obviously when you get guys like this on your team, who love Davis Cup, they love to be here, they love to support United States tennis,” Courier said.

“They are ready to go to battle and give everything they’ve got. It’s a huge honour, a thrill. Sure, I am on the learning curve this week as well. I think we will be in good shape. I am very comfortable and at ease with all of these guys already and hoping they feel the same way. My job is to stay out of their way.”

Courier leads the massively experienced Andy Roddick, the still developing John Isner and the world’s best doubles combination Bob and Mike Bryan. Roddick is returning to the fold after taking a year off from Davis Cup, Isner has played just two ties before, while the Bryans have never lost a Davis Cup doubles rubber on red clay, the chosen surface at the Estadio Nacional.

The Americans have never lost to Chile and are heavily favoured to win the tie but no one in the two teams is going into the series believing that will necessarily be the case. Davis Cup has a habit of throwing up surprises when it is least expected.

“In Davis Cup, you know you are going to have a tough match no matter whom you play and where you play,” Courier added. “Davis Cup matches are never simple and as a team we’ll never overestimate or underestimate our opponents. Our job is simply to come here, be prepared and play the best tennis we can play and see what happens. We’re just focused on our job which is to win three matches before the Chileans.”

The last time the two nations faced one another in Chile was in 1978 in the same venue as this weekend, but their last meeting was on grass in 2006 in Mission Hills, California, and the final score was 3-2. Roddick said the tie from five years ago hadn’t even entered his mind till it was raised at a media conference.

“The way I look at it is that you come into Davis Cup having to win three matches, so what happened in ’06 on a grass court in California has zero relevance for this weekend,” he said. “I think that is how we view it. We are going to try to get three. 

“As far as talking about hypotheticals and predicting what’s going to happen, that’s the media’s job. Our job is to be prepared to go win tennis matches."

Andy Roddick (USA) - 02/03/2011

Jim Courier (USA) - 02/03/2011

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    • Andy Roddick (USA)Jim Courier (USA)
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