by Benjamin Snyder
”The Rock” takes on clay: Jim Courier’s now in charge of the US Davis Cup team since Patrick McEnroe’s resignation late last year. While McEnroe did a great job in his decade at the top (including a title win in 2007), we’re looking forward to what Courier brings to the table. Aside from holding the top spot in the ATP rankings, Courier also helped his Davis Cup team to victory in 1992 and 1995. This could be key to getting the US guys winning again. That is, if they’re all still standing. (Get well, Sam!) Oh wells, at least we have Andy.
But save those sighs for his torso, my friends; Roddick’s mere presence doesn’t guarantee relief (nor a win). Since that ’07 title win, it’s been a rocky road for the US Davis Cup squad. While many reasons point to a Chilean shutout by the red, white, and blue in the first round — we’re the heavy favorites with a 4-0 head-to-head –, don’t be quick to discount the host team. Check out these reasons below:
First, the obvious. The match takes place in Chile and that means the play’s on clay. Sure, The Rock understands the stuff — he won two consecutive French Opens –, but the all-star team of Roddick, John Isner, and the Bryan brothers? Not so much.
Second, the pressure’s on. With the Americans favored to win, that underdog mentality could boost Chile onto the second round. Don’t get distracted by the numbers, boys. It shouldn’t matter that they have no one ranked inside the top 150, nor that Fernando Gonzalez is still recovering from his hip surgery. Eyes on the prize!
(By the way, USA Today’s Doug Robson tweeted today about running into Gonzo at the DC presser in Santiago, where the he shared that he plans on returning to the tour before Roland Garros.)
And third, we’ll share this snippet from Chilean captain Hans Gildemeister:”I think the pressure is on America, and I hope tomorrow they are going to feel the pressure on the court…The Americans need to beat us. They have the better rankings, they have a great team, and we are the underdog. I like that.”
And of course an intangible. The Chileans are rockin’ the tall, dark and handsome South American-style to the Americans, well, tall. The US need to step-up more than just their physical game to claim a holistic victory. They need to look good, too, if they want our vote. (Apparently, captain Courier is doing great setting the sartorial tone for the team; even the normally unfazed Roddick chimed in positively.)
So take these reasons with a grain of salt if you must, but it’s going to be a compelling match-up regardless. Bone up: See all the tie details here.