I'm without words.
Exclusive: Roddick, Blake out of Davis Cup
Peter Bodo - Thursday, January 7, 2010
For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Davis Cup team will be without stalwarts Andy Roddick and James Blake when it travels to face powerful Serbia in a first-round tie in Belgrade in March. “It certainly appears to be the end of era,” U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe told TENNIS Thursday. “But the door will always remain open to both of those guys in the event they decide they want to play again.”
Roddick and Blake have both decided to leave Davis Cup off their 2010 schedules. McEnroe has yet to name the squad he plans to take to Serbia for the tie against a powerful Serbian team led by world No. 3 Novak Djokovic. The U.S. singles players most likely to be selected are Sam Querrey and John Isner, although that could change in the next few weeks, depending on the performance of the U.S. players in Australia. Mardy Fish is also high on McEnroe's list of Davis Cup candidates. Serbia will be heavily favored given that it will be contested on slow red clay.
McEnroe has said he hopes to develop Querrey and Isner into as loyal and effective a Davis Cup singles tandem as Andy Roddick and James Blake were for the past several years. Both players made their Davis Cup debuts in 2001; the U.S. has been represented by either one or both men in each of its last 25 ties. Roddick and Blake formed a formidable one-two punch in an era during which the rising level of talent, worldwide, made the international event more competitive than at any other time in history. And they helped rekindle the belief that Davis Cup ought to be a top priority, even for the marquee players whose already crowded schedules often make Davis Cup duty seem too onerous.
"Andy has always put it on the line for the USA in Davis Cup. His record of loyalty and his results speak for themselves," McEnroe said. "He's a legitimate Davis Cup icon with his 31 singles wins. Nobody appreciates what Andy has done more than I do, having been his captain for almost a decade."
McEnroe also had glowing words for Blake: "James Blake has played every possible role on the team, from practice partner to doubles and singles player. He's always been there, ready to do whatever he's been asked."
The U.S. has reached two finals in the past decade, losing to Spain in 2004 and defeating Russia to win the Cup in Portland, Ore., in 2007. With a 31-11 record, Roddick trails only John McEnroe (41-8) as a Davis Cup singles performer. Blake, who also played a few doubles matches, is a combined 21-12. The production of Roddick and Blake has been matched by the U.S. doubles team of Mike and Bob Bryan, who made their debut in September of 2003. The Bryans are 16-2 as a team; only Stan Smith (20-3 in doubles) and John McEnroe (18-2) have won more Davis Cup doubles matches in the Open Era.
"Bob and Mike have played an enormous role in our success over the years, and they demonstrate the enormous value a good doubles team represents in Davis Cup," McEnroe said. "And they're such dyed in the wool Davis Cup players that they'll provide a great example for the younger players coming into the pipeline. Nobody gets more pumped up for Davis Cup than the Bryans."
Look for a more in-depth analysis to follow shortly.