Re: VINCE SPADEA's DIRECT LETTER TO PATRICK MCENROE
Pretty interesting stuff. TW talked to PMac before his press conference today... they're supposed to post the whole interview with him tomorrow.
Roddick, Fish, Bryan Brothers Selected To U.S. Davis Cup Team
By Richard Pagliaro
The U.S. Davis Cup championship team enjoyed taste of Spain today. U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe hopes it was an appetizer for a Davis Cup victory his team will try to taste when it takes on host Spain on the red clay court of the Estadio Olympico in Seville, Spain, December 3rd-5th.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Americans reclaiming the Cup, the USTA brought together Hall of Fame players Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas and Ham Richardson who captured the Cup in 1954 against host Australia before a Davis Cup record crowd of 25,578 in White City at the midtown Manhattan's Spanish restaurant Solera.
While the trio of American tennis legends looked on, McEnroe set his sights on the United States' quest to capture its 32nd Davis Cup championship. As expected, the captain has selected the same cast that beat Belarus in September's semifinal — second-ranked Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan — to take on Spain.
The Spanish squad is well-suited for the slow surface with a pair of former top-ranked Roland Garros champions in Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero forming the foundation for a team that includes talented teen Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo. Spain is seeking its second Davis Cup title in its fifth appearance in the final. Spain defeated Australia 3-1 to win the Davis Cup title in 2000 as Ferrero defeated Lleyton Hewitt to clinch the country's first Davis Cup championship in history. Spain reached the Davis Cup final last year, falling 3-1 to Australia in Melbourne. That tie was played on grass, while the soft red clay that is the surface for this final should serve as a welcome mat for Spanish players.
"Playing against a Spanish team that includes two former world No. 1 players and two French Open champions on a clay court before 15,000 fans is the ultimate challenge and test for our team," McEnroe said. "Nothing would be sweeter and more satisfying than to win the Davis Cup in this environment and our guys are certainly excited about that opportunity that is in front of them."
One player who will not share the excitement is 19th-ranked Vince Spadea, who was bypassed in favor of Fish. Spadea told Tennis Week he would be willing to make the trip to Seville as an alternate, but he probably won't get the chance as McEnroe confirmed he is leading toward choosing Robby Ginepri, the second singles starter in the United States' 5-0 sweep of Austria in February's opening-round, as the alternate on the team should Ginepri's bothersome back hold up.
In an email to Tennis Week yesterday, Spadea stated his case for his inclusion on the squad and criticized the selection process that he asserts is unfair in that it permits the captain's personal preference to take priority over player performance, ranking and results. Spadea is ranked 18 spots higher than Fish, owns 12 more victories on the season and has produced better clay-court results in the past.
Prior to today's press conference, McEnroe told Tennis Week he chose Fish over Spadea primarily because he truly believes Fish gives the Americans a better chance to win than Spadea. The complete interview with McEnroe will be posted on this web site tomorrow.
"I'm not making the decision based on the fact Vince is older. The primary reason is I believe that Mardy has the best chance to win a match," McEnroe said. "I believe he's got game that can frustrate those guys. Obviously, it's clay so it's a different situation. But the key for me, in my mind, is that Mardy works his butt off these next few weeks, which obviously I'm on him about doing, so that he's in great shape. And if he's in great shape then I think he's got a good chance to win a match."
Conceding Spadea's clay-court credentials have been superior to Fish, McEnroe pointed out that the match-ups — Fish is undefeated against both Moya and Ferrero, while Spadea is winless against Moya and Ferrero — and prior Davis Cup experience favor Fish.
"Spadea's had better results than Fish on clay, but this isn't a clay-court season. We're playing one match," McEnroe said. "I'll say it again: in my mind, in my opinion, Mardy has a better chance to win a match (than Spadea). Does that mean he's necessarily a guy who's going to win more matches on clay throughout the course of a two month season? Well that's debatable. I'm asking him to try to go win one match. And if you put Vince Spadea — or anyone — in their first live match in Davis Cup in the Davis Cup final in front of 25,000 people who are going crazy — and I've been there for Roddick's first Davis Cup match, for Mardy's first Davis Cup match, for James Blake's first Davis Cup match, for Ginepri's first Davis Cup match, down two sets to love, the whole deal — that's very tough. We can't afford that in this big a match. And as I said, as solid a year as Vince has had, he hasn't done great in the majors. He hasn't had great results in Slams, which leads me to think that in five set matches, it's one thing if the guy's unbelievable in five-set matches of if the guy got to the semis of the French. Yeah, he's had better results than Mardy on clay this year. He hasn't had the results that to me make it a no-brainer that he is the obvious pick. To me, Mardy has a better chance to win a match, he's been part of the team."
McEnroe said he considered selecting Spadea, but did not believe the disparity in ranking and results between Spadea and Fish was significant enough to warrant Spadea's selection to the squad.
"I certainly considered Vince seriously," McEnroe said. "I follow all the results from Europe. Unless Vince did something extraordinary, like winning Madrid or doing something outrageous, I was pretty comfortable that I was going to stay with Mardy. He's got us here, he's won some big matches for us, he's got the experience of playing. I'm not going to put someone in there just to gain experience — especially when we're playing in the final for the Davis Cup."
In response to Spadea's call for the USTA to adopt a merit-based selection system relying strictly on rankings to reward the players who have produced the best results over the course of a season, McEnroe said such a system was "absolutely never going to happen" as he believes would limit the captain's flexibility in picking a team best-suited to specific surfaces and opponents.
"Absolutely not. It will certainly never happen as long as I'm the captain. Never," McEnroe said. "I have to pick guys who I feel are best prepared to play on particular surfaces. The morale of the team is important. Match-ups, the fact that Mardy has matched up well with these guys, on different surfaces, but I watched him play Moya at the Australian and that was pretty slow conditions. I watched him play Ferrero at the Olympics. I mean, that's not a guarantee that he's going to win, but that helps. In other words if we had this system where as Vince says we went strictly by the rankings, I mean that's just not going to happen. What if someone's hurt?"
In support of his stance, McEnroe said rankings have never been the sole criteria in his selection process and suggested experience in Davis Cup play is vital when playing a final on foreign soil.
"When I put Ginepri in he wasn't ranked the highest at that point, when I put Blake in over Todd Martin in North Carolina, he wasn't ranked higher. So you have to have some flexibility," McEnroe said. "Mardy got us here, he's won some big matches fo us, he's got the experience of playing. I'm not going to put someone in there just to gain experience— especially when we're playing in the final for the Davis Cup. "
McEnroe said he offered a spot on the squad to Andre Agassi, but Agassi, who has said repeatedly he has no desire to play Davis Cup again, declined.
"Would it count if Spadea were No. 5 in the world? Then of course, that's different," said McEnroe. "The disparity is not like saying it's Andre Agassi who has won the French Open and eight majors.If it was Agassi then you make an exception — and this is in no way meant to disparage Vince Spadea — because he's Andre Agassi. There's only one Andre Agassi. He's won eight Grand Slams, he's one of the greatest players ever, he's Andre Agassi."
The complete Patrick McEnroe interview will be posted on this web site tomorrow.