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Davis Cup Preview - USA Spain

 

A very difficult task awaits the United States Davis Cup squad in semifinal round play.  A trip to face the strong Spanish team on their beloved clay surface.  Throw in a late withdrawal from a drained James Blake and the US side appears to face a very tall task.

Blake was dropped from the squad due to physical exhaustion after the US Open last week. "James is just exhausted physically and mentally after a grueling summer," McEnroe said. "He said he needed a break and we respect that. This is also a great opportunity for Sam, who has had a solid year, strong results on clay and has been a loyal practice partner for this team." Blake was replaced by 40th ranked Sam Querrey, who will be making his Davis Cup debut.

My feeling is that if this is a trial by fire, the flame is a cool one. Nobody expects the US to win, therefore it's less a matter of how much Querrey might disappoint than how much he might impress. I have to think this was part of McEnroe's strategy for choosing Querrey, although it isn't like he had 101 viable options. It's a clear sign that McEnroe is already thinking of the team's future, but that doesn't mean the US views this as a throwaway tie. Nobody is stupid enough to believe that a semifinal is either insurmountable or worth squandering after the effort plowed into getting there.

Andy Roddick will lead the US team along with the strong doubles team of brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.  Spain will of course be headlined by superstar Rafael Nadal.  For the Americans to have a chance they'll either need someone to get a point out of Nadal, which is a very tall order, or they'll need a sweep of Spain's David Ferrer and then grab the doubles point.

The Davis Cup semifinal tie opens on Friday September 19th in Madrid, Spain.  It will be played on clay at the 21,000 seat Plaza de Toros Las Ventas where the Spanish will have a monster home court advantage.  The only times Spain has ever beaten the United States in Davis Cup play has been on clay.  Spain is 3-1 against the US on clay, while the US is 4-0 on grass. The other semifinal tie pits a Russian squad visiting Argentina.

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