AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA: USA and Spain will clash for the tenth time in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas this weekend in Austin, Texas and the United States goes into the tie holding a slim 5-4 advantage. The last time these two Davis Cup stalwarts meet was the 2008 semifinals in Madrid and it was Spain that captured the win.
The draw was made for this weekend at the Frank Erwin Centre, which was sold out within one hour of tickets becoming available three months ago. The draw ceremony, featuring the band ‘Asleep at the Wheel’, before over 700 members of the public, highlighted what a captivating, exciting and thrilling occasion the next three days will be.
This is the first time USA is playing a tie at home since the first round in 2009 and they chose to play in the hometown of Davis Cup regular, Andy Roddick.
The first match will be a battle between two recent Wimbledon quarterfinalists, Mardy Fish and Feliciano Lopez. Fish has a 3-2 head-to-head advantage over Lopez and has won their last three meetings. The second singles on day one has Andy Roddick taking on David Ferrer. Ferrer holds a 4-3 advantage over the American No. 2.
The doubles, as expected, places the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, who won their second Wimbledon title last weekend, up against Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. Fish, the new American No. 1 player, will play the first of the reverse singles on Sunday against Ferrer. Fish leads their head-to-head 4-3. Roddick will close things out against Lopez. He has a 7-1 head-to-head over Lopez who won his first match against the American in the third round at 2011 Wimbledon 76 76 64.
“When we come to these draws, we know we're going to get one of two outcomes (and) I don't think we really mind one way or the other,” USA captain Jim Courier said. “Fortunately we're in a situation where our team is healthy and we're ready to go. Mardy coming out of the blocks is good for us. We'll look forward to that. Andy obviously will be backing him up. There's no real drama for us. It kind of is what it is.”
Spanish captain Albert Costa said not having Rafael Nadal in Austin makes it just that bit tougher but says the guys he has playing for him are all experienced enough and know what it takes to win a Davis Cup championship having done it without Nadal in 2009.
“I think every match is very important,” Costa said. “I think if we win the first match we will have more chances to be on Sunday with a possibility to win this tie. We have to win three matches no matter which one is more important or not. At the end we need three points. If David or Feli (Lopez) tomorrow wins, then the doubles, we'll see. We need three points, and we know it's going to be very tough.”
Fish says he is “real excited” about the weekend and like the fact that he knows he is the first match.
“I enjoy when I know when I play, I know I play at 2:00 and I think that helps me a lot,” he said. “Getting the first point obviously sets the tone for the tie. We've got a pretty good guy coming behind me, as well. So, you know, I won't feel any extra pressure. We're looking to get to three, and that's the goal.”
Lopez meanwhile made it clear that Davis Cup is a special competition for him and “this is one of the ties you always dream to play” because USA is always regarded as one of the strongest teams in the world.
“If we win here, will be probably one of our best wins in Davis Cup ever,” Lopez said. “I mean, right now the U.S. team is the toughest to play away. I think so.
“I feel good otherwise I won't be playing tomorrow. I don't want to think about playing three matches. I mean, I know I have to play Mardy tomorrow, that's all. I don't want to start thinking about anything else.
“We have so much to think in the match of tomorrow. Of course, I feel ready. I feel physically strong. But I don't know if I'm going to play three matches, so I don't want to think about that anymore.”
Roddick, who has been playing host to his team mates, was asked if he will feel extra pressure because of that but he thinks that won’t be the case.
“I'm sure there will be some jitters tomorrow but I've played 44 of these Davis Cup matches and I've had jitters for every single one of them,” he said. “I don't think that's a new situation. This is an event that I feel very comfortable playing in. I'm looking forward to the energy in the building.”
The full draw is listed below.
R1: Mardy Fish (USA) v Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
R2: Andy Roddick (USA) v David Ferrer (ESP)
R3: Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan (USA) v Feliciano Lopez / Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
R4: Mardy Fish (USA) v David Ferrer (ESP)
R5: Andy Roddick (USA) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Watch this tie live at: DavisCup.tv
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (USA) - 07/07/2011
Captain Albert Costa (ESP) - 07/07/2011
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 07/07/2011
David Ferrer (ESP) - 07/07/2011
Mardy Fish (USA) - 07/07/2011
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) - 07/07/2011
Andy Roddick (USA) - 07/07/2011
Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco (ESP) - 07/07/2011