- Reply to Topic
Thread: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC thread Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

  Topic Review (Newest First)
01-30-2008 06:10 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

oh boy back to clay still I have faith the surface is dodgy for the team BUT against say Spain or even Russia I would have doubts but I smell a win for the first round.
01-30-2008 04:41 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

Happy days.

#1. No More Tears for Victorious US Davis Cup Team

US Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe had seen it all and more in the past six years: a thumping at the hands of the great Federer in Switzerland; a humbling at the hands of Ivan “The Terrible Big Server” Ljubicic in Zagreb; and a muddy, clay-stained boot-in-the-face courtesy of the French. Then the imperialism-hating Spanish fans in a raucous soccer stadium Seville taunted PMac’s Merry Pranksters. The next year, an Andre Agassi-led Dream Team imploded in Carson, Califronia. In ‘06, the team got a chance to visit Moscow, the site of Pete Sampras’ remarkable victory over the Russians on red dirt in ‘95, the last time the U.S. had won a Cup. Unlike Pistol Pete, that U.S. team usurped no one and suffered an exhausting and demoralizing loss.

So, after his team swept Russia 3-0 in Portland to bust its record 12-year-Davis Cup drought, McEnroe recalled the ‘02 semi against France when his top player, Andy Roddick, had lost two singles matches on clay and felt like the world was collapsing on him. “The next morning we were in the van and he said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ He put it on the line then and did it every time. He’s done it for us and, even though he’s taken his shots from everyone, including me, with the losses he’s had, he’s put everything he has into Davis Cup. He’s sets the tone for us.”

Roddick did that and more with a straight-set thumping of Dmitry Tursunov, which allowed James Blake to cut loose and score the biggest win of his career over Mikhail Youzhny in a vintage four-setter. That brought on the ultimate closers, Bob and Mike Bryan, who despite the worst case of nerves of their career that caused the lefty Bob to puke after the match, closed out Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-2 to give the U.S. its record 32nd crown.

The team celebrated wildly later, pouring beer all over each other while choking back tears of joy. They are a veteran group now, but as Roddick noted, they can act like candy-crazed 10-year-olds. The Davis Cup means everything to them. “Last year when I lost to Tursunov in Russia I was crying my eyes out, too,’ Roddick told IT. “It hurts more to lose in Davis Cup because it’s not all about you. It affects a lot more people. Davis Cup losses are the worst, but even when you are going through the process of losing, pouring your heart out and having your teammates say they are proud of you, this is always in the back of your mind, that you can win someday, and we finally did it. It’s not real yet to me, but we did it and we are all just thrilled.”

Back in ‘00 when John McEnroe bailed on his problematic captaincy and Sampras and Agassi essentially swore off play, Pat McEnroe was left with a small group of declining veterans and green rookies. There was no way that the U.S. was going to win the Cup until the likes of Roddick, Blake and the Bryans matured. They had one great shot back in ‘05, when Agassi decided to rejoin the team for one tie but they were shocked by Croatia at home, as Agassi couldn’t contend with the speed of the court, the Bryans were out-served and U.S. nemesis Ljubicic played one of the best matches of his life in downing Roddick. “That was partly my fault,” McEnroe said. “That was difficult. And they went on to win it that year. That could have been a year we certainly could have made a real deep run. But other than that, the guys had been there. Andy lost some hellacious matches on the road, including to Tursunov (in ‘06), where he’s just put everything into those matches. He also won some big matches in the Czech Republic. Mardy (Fish) wins in Bratislava. The Bryans win their match, they’re one-all in a relegation match. We remember all those matches.”

This new U.S. team’s real Achilles heel was playing away on clay. During McEnroe’s and Roddick’s tenure, before Portland, they had reached two other semis and one final, all of them losses away on dirt. But in ‘07, they pulled off a huge win over the Czechs on clay away (sans Stepanek) and that set things in motion. They faced Spain at home, Rafael Nadal pulled out and they crushed them indoors in Winston-Salem. They went to Sweden for the semis, but the Nordics chose a fast indoor court and Roddick and the Bryans came up huge again.

Then, against defending champions Russia, they were clearly the better team. Sure, there were sporadic nerves from Blake and the Bryans, who at times were flummoxed by Davydenko’s razor-sharp returns and Andreev’s nuclear forehand, but they threw the hammer down when they had to. “This year I think it looked like, hey, maybe we could play a decent country, and Czech Republic has a good team, but maybe not one of the top, top teams, away on clay,” McEnroe said. “When we won that, we thought maybe things can break right for us. The experience that these guys have had over the years was really key towards handling the away matches and also handling the emotion of the home matches really well.”

The Bryans nearly let their emotions get the best of them, but remained composed enough to be able to race around the Joel Coliseum with the flag held high. Bob said later that once he finished his stint in the bathroom, that he was ready to go out into the Portland night on a much-deserved bender. “I just puked my guts out in the shower,” Bob said with a laugh. “I’ve been nauseous for three days. I’m not going to try to hide that my stomach was doing back flips. I had a circus of monkeys in my stomach, just playing tambourine in there. It was a lot of emotion, especially running out for those intros with the crowd going nuts, fireworks, the whole deal.”

The Bryans’ incredibly enthusiastic yet nervous father, Wayne, told IT: “I’ve always envisioned this. I’ve always wanted doubles to be like this — like another athletic contest, not like a tennis match. I loved all the enthusiasm, the energy. I didn’t dream it, I just saw it with the streamers coming down, the boys winning, the boys playing great, playing loose, not overwhelmed. It was real. I’ve been here.”

The team showed up at their post-match press conference soaked in beer and cracking jokes. “This team is not just this year,” Roddick said. “It’s not just this year we won. It’s a process. This is just the final goal.”

McEnroe’s group has drawn a fair amount of criticism during the past three years, as they have sported two to three top-10 singles players (Roddick, Blake and Agassi) and the world’s No. 1 doubles team and still weren’t able to get it done. But they stayed the course and for all their disdain of the so-called negativity of the analysts, Roddick admitted that the bar was not set too high for his group. When you come from a nation that holds the record in Davis Cup crowns, you are expected to bring home a Cup at least once a decade.

Mission accomplished for Roddick, McEnroe, Blake and the merry Bryans.

“We went into every year expecting to win,” said Roddick, as he left the building with his new girlfriend, SI swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker. “You enter a tennis event expecting to win it. We had one of the best teams on paper. Clay is tough for us and we need a little bit of the luck of the draw and we were not thinking that we could beat Spain and Nadal on clay, even though miracles can happen. But we are always going to bust our butts, and I always believed we would win it.”
01-03-2008 05:58 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

Aw, thanks Tangy

Who cares if the pictures are doubles? Doubles of winning DC are just fine, thanks
01-01-2008 10:29 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! " 2007 DC thread

Happy new year everybody

I still have Davis Cup on the brain and apparently so do other folks.


First of all I just wanted very quickly to respond to something Jeremy said in the last blog about Davis Cup. Jeremy stated that Andy Roddick is the man for his Davis Cup Performance. I as a tennis coach was really thrilled to read that. I am so proud of Andy and the rest of the boys for doing our nation so proud. They really stepped up and they did so because it was their time to do that. I was so impressed on so many levels. I loved the way he incorporated the slice backhand and used it over and over again to hurt Tursunov. I can honestly say that under that pressure to have a good strategy is not nearly enough. To be able to execute that strategy was real solid and paid off tremendously.

I love the way Andy competed and how hungry he truly was for that Davis Cup. I happened to meet Andy recently at the Billie Jean King/Elton John Aids benefit in Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of hanging with him a bit and listen to him speak about Davis Cup. The conversation went something like this(he was speaking to Captain Patrick Mcenroe) who was also there at the event. I was coaching a player participating in the event and we were in the players lounge. Andy said: “Hey Pat did you hear that Davis Cup sold out in about thirty minutes?” Captain responded with a pumped up “yes I did, I can’t wait it’s going to be a madhouse.” I interject and said I know your going to bring it home you want more than they do. Andy responded ” we want it real bad it’s going to be amazing.”

I look up to Andy for being so focused on the prize for putting country first and always competing his hardest. People knock Andy in this country that he is a disappointment. Those people don’t know anything about anything. Andy works his butt off to get in shape, practices hard, doesn’t play a soft schedule, plays every Davis Cup tie, and wants to win so badly because he almost hates to lose more than liking to win. To win that Davis Cup is like winning many grand slams in his eyes because he loves team, he loves competing and he’s a damn proud American. Atta boy Andy way to represent !!!!
He goes on to make similar positive comments about James the Bryan brothers. Click on the link above to read them.

I've never read Ted Robinson's blog before. He has a nice entry here: "A True Team Returns Davis Cup to U.S.".

And here's some random DC pics I came across. Sorry if there are any dupes here.
12-15-2007 07:36 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

2007 Davis Cup – Lessons Learned

Jim McLennan

Davis Cup is still fresh in my mind – from the drama, the extremely high level of play, the shot making, the fan involvement, to finally the recapture of this venerable cup after a 12 year drought. Last week our Joel Drucker covered this story in an article, "Davis Cup: Come Together," for our December 8th newsletter.

I would like to concentrate on what I took away from the matches (and I witnessed it from the stands in Portland) as a teacher and player and how you might apply the lessons learned to your game. Tennis is as much about tactics as technique. And more so about how certain tactics fit one’s style of play, and how those same tactics can expose an opponent’s tendencies and weaknesses. Roddick and Blake employed wildly different game plans, and those wonderful Bryan Brothers put on a veritable doubles clinic for the overmatched Russians, but there is much “between these tactical lines” that you and I can use on court.

Andy Roddick: Keep the Ball in Play

Roddick dispatched Dmitry Tursunov, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in the first match to give the U.S. an opening lead. Roddick’s unreturnable serve and consistent backcourt play drained most of the emotion from the match. He secured one early break in each of the first two sets, two breaks in the third set, and faced just one break point in the entire match. Roddick finished the 2007 Davis Cup campaign with an unblemished 6 and 0 singles record, and in many ways his style of play – unreturnable serves and error free defensive tennis from well behind the baseline - presented insurmountable problems for all his Davis Cup opponents.

Certainly, Jimmy Connors has been retained by the Roddick camp to instill a baseline-hugging, moving-forward, offensive style of play. And though they still work together, Connors was no where in sight during the Davis Cup, nor was Roddick’s interpretation of Jimbo’s style of play. But though he may still work on that game, he chose to play defense against Tursunov and did it exceptionally well. Whenever the rally exceeded three shots, Roddick, often playing 12, 15, or even 18 feet behind the baseline, was always the more consistent. Heavily under spun one handed backhands, spiny rather than driving forehands, all used in service of error free play.

Tursunov, a capable top 30 player, plays without the necessary skills to counter the Roddick game plan. First and foremost when returning serve, whether Tursunov or you and I, the receiver must get the ball back in play. Blocking, chipping, floating, do anything to make the return. Dmitry hits big shots and this worked against him on the return game. Secondly, when an opponent plays way back from the baseline, move forward, find sharp crosscourt angles, and or approach the net because it becomes exponentially more difficult to pass from that deep in the court. But Dmitry played a straight-ahead power game with little feel for angles, finesse, or volleys. And from Roddick’s winning point of view, there was no need for him to change his game plan. When winning – continue to impose your tactics and style of play. When losing – change your tactics, change your style, change some thing or the end result will not be (nor was it) in doubt.

James Blake: Accept Risk and Withstand the Errors

The Blake Youzhny affair was a match of a far different color. Both men are big hitters and capable and nimble volleyers. And both made incredible shots from unbelievable positions, stunning the crowd with beautiful one handed topspin drives, and deadly forehands. As ever, the Blake forehand may be the most lethal shot in tennis, and his forehand return of serve, when timed correctly, is bigger I think than Agassi’s.

Youzhny did not serve particularly well, and escaped with some suspect second serves whenever James fell into his occasional spells of inexplicable inconsistent play. But as the match progressed, with both players truly neck and neck, James captured the fourth set tiebreaker; trailing 2-3 he delivered two unreturnable serves, followed by two steady return points, to finally finish the match with a forehand winner.

In James’ elated post match interview he commented on mental toughness and alluded to the persistent questions he received during the week about his ability to deliver in big situations. And, as he captured the first and second set, the overhead scoreboard showed that Blake had lost four matches over the years when ahead 2 sets to 0. But I disagree. Blake is mentally tough – in fact very mentally tough; the truth is that Blake plays extremely high risk tennis. His flat ground strokes lack margin over the net. He is prone to go for the big shot rather than keep the ball in play. And often he plays down the line for no discernable reason, where the net is highest and the player has a shorter distance to work with. The story, or the question to be posed by the press, should be more about his feel for tactics and strategy rather than the state of his mind.

That said, when you or I encounter a high risk, aggressive player, the trick is to keep the ball in play, and favor crosscourt ground strokes. This countering style encourages the high risk opponent to play down the line. Further, under spin backhands tempt these big hitters into extremely difficult approaches. Youzhny, however, appeared to play equally big high risk tennis – pleasing to the audience but not exactly a countering strategy. If, on the other hand, you are the big-hitting, high-risk player looking to hit winners and force errors rather than simply waiting for the opponent’s mistakes, the secret is to accept the risks that go hand-in-hand with this style of play, and not dwell on missed opportunities. James did quite well on this score, and we saw the evidence in the fourth set tiebreaker.

Mike and Bob Bryan: Move Forward and Dominate

The Bryans, on paper, the world’s number one ranked team entered the match heavily favored. The wily Russian coach inserted Davydenko and Igor Andreev, each without any real doubles results on their professional resumes. That said, the first set showed a glimmer of the Russian tactics with Davydenko and Andreev playing mostly from the baseline, rarely venturing forward or playing competently when at the net. But with both teams holding serve and through to a first set tiebreaker.

In the breaker, the Bryans fell behind a mini-break with Davydenko serving at 3-2, at which point the Russian wheels fell off. Davydenko lost both points on serve, Andreev ended the tiebreaker with a double fault, and Davydenko proceeded to be broken once in the second set and twice in the third, as the Bryans ran out the match and captured the cup.

Doubles Tactics

Get your first serves in, make all your returns, and dominate at the net. On this score the Bryans play picture perfect doubles. Both serve consistently, both return serve simply, favoring placement over brute power, but oh, at the net, these guys really dominate. As they pressed their advantage at the end of the first set, and then began to steamroll, I counted more than one dozen spikes. And though that may not be the normal term to describe volley winners, Bob and Mike move so darn close to the net that they often hit sharply down on the ball, almost like a volley ball spike. And their spike volleys and reflex overheads were unreturnable.

Normally when players crowd the net, they may be susceptible to the lob, and in fact there were two well placed topspin crosscourt lobs by the Russians. But two lob winners in no way overcome more than one dozen spike winners. When you get the chance, watch these guys and marvel at their explosive quickness, and make your own count of their spikes.

A Disclaimer

This Davis Cup team, and in particular, Andy and James, have labored under the unfortunate scenario to play in the shadow of our greatest generation. Pretty tough to follow in the Davis Cup and Grand Slam footsteps of Sampras, McEnroe, Agassi and Courier. But Andy and James consistently put it all on the line, and endure persistent criticism about aspects of their games that might be improved. And certainly this writer continues to be one of those “technical” critics. But I say, celebrate these guys. They love the game. They love captain Patrick McEnroe. And they have captured the Cup. Bravo! As to the Bryans, I expect they will eclipse all Davis Cup records by any twosome for most wins – these guys will be around for a long time.
12-10-2007 01:05 AM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC

Originally Posted by Deboogle!. View Post
Yea Amber and I went MTF had a :retard: right after that, so my pictures got eaten up by the MTF black hole, otherwise I'd link them

Honestly, I vaguely remember he fell Dean was the acting captain that week b/c I think that was when PMac's baby was about to be born, so if you remember Dean coming out, then it probably happened. I kinda remember not being able to see something like that, so perhaps I have the matches on tape somewhere, but I'm too lazy to pull them out tonight Our seats were off to the side so it was sometimes hard to see a lot of stuff plus we were in front of like 6 large chileans with an even larger flag that sometimes obstructed our view.................... like I said good times good times

wait it must've been this (I didn't take these pictures ) yeowch.
Good times...good times.
12-09-2007 10:54 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

awwwww Holly that is too bad u will still have the memories of them winning, now if only I could find my 1/4 final pics!
12-09-2007 09:54 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t


I wish I'd gone to find them... but then again I had nothing to wear.
12-09-2007 09:34 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

OMG, that one of Mardy on the dance floor might be the funniest picture of him I've EVER Seen Thanks Kate!
12-09-2007 09:31 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

more celebration pics
12-09-2007 02:27 AM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

That was on the DC website for a while too!
12-08-2007 11:53 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

His mom was in Rancho Mirage yes
12-08-2007 11:50 PM
Originally Posted by meenyminymo View Post
Yeah that's it! Alright I'm not crazy, I feel better now .

I remember it was on video for a while, on Youtube probably. I couldn't find it when I searched again. It looked so painful and I remember he stood up and waved everyone off and wiped his eyes with his shirt . I felt so bad for him.

Yeah that was when PMac's baby girl was born. She's totally adorable

Large flag in the way, that does sound like good times
Yeah, I was at that tie and i'm pretty sure his mom was there and when he fell she looked extremely shocked/worried? Or was this a completely different tie? I remember I wasn't sure if he fell or not, so I thought he fainted or something :retard:
12-08-2007 08:23 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

awwwwww holly.... I'd like to! One day, maybe......

nice wrapup sort of DC article
Davis Cup: Come Together

Joel Drucker

There was James Blake hugging Andy Roddick. There were the Bryan brothers, virtually conceived for this moment. There were the practice partners, Mardy Fish, Robby Ginepri, Donald Young and John Isner, joining in the hugs. And of course, there was captain Patrick McEnroe – just part of the whole troupe doused in a smelly, frat house mix of champagne and beer. All sat on the dais inside the cozy Portland Memorial Coliseum to celebrate America’s first Davis Cup win since 1995.

Most of all, they were a group. Roddick, asked if this was as close as tennis can get to the shared joy of a Super Bowl or World Series team, gave a blunt one-word answer: “Absolutely.”

Davis Cup is that rare moment when a tennis player can share the responsibility and emotional toll. Its lure is largely a tribute to its rareness. As no less a Davis Cup stalwart than Jim Courier once told me, “You play tennis so you don’t have people telling you what to do.”

Having attended Davis Cup ties for nearly 20 years, what I find most engaging – and taxing – is the incredible amount of collective energy expended and displayed at this high-stakes competition. This holds true for everyone from players to captains and spectators. It is a striking contrast to the detached solitude seen at just about every other match a pro plays.

But in Davis Cup, something as significant as a love-15 lead can incite soccer-like noise. As a result of all the attention, benchside engagement, and heightened amplification attending each point, Davis Cup matches are often akin to playing a three-hour tiebreaker.

Certainly the energy was high in Portland, where local promoter Brian Parrott (the man who’d produced prior ties there in ’81 and ’84) had done much to get the tennis community behind this event. Portland’s support proved the notion that tennis doesn’t need major media markets for success. In every town, there are passionate pockets that if stimulated properly can turn out in big numbers. Parrott and his group, the Oregon Sports Authority, had done that quite well. After all, Portland is the home of two major tennis superpowers. Forget the old Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and Russia. In tennis we’re talking about Nike and adidas. Nike got in on the action rapidly as a local sponsor. Adidas was present in various ways too, most notably through the Bryan brothers.

So with a packed venue ranting after virtually every point, it takes a special kind of player to manage this kind of energy. Those demands were likely one reason why Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev (who resembles a beefed up version of famed psychologist Jim Loehr and comedian Garry Shandling) dropped Nikolay Davydenko from the singles lineup. Accomplished as Daydenko is – he’s been a top four player for two years – his weakness is an inability to raise his fine counterpunching game on the big occasion.

Roddick's Revenge

In contrast, Roddick has always thrived in Davis Cup, knowing most of all that he has the stones to strike boldly with the two weapons most vital in contemporary tennis, his massive serve and his haymaker forehand. He’s also enough of a sports zealot to know that there will be odd emotional patches – a contrast to the rational fatalism that’s often infected such Russians as Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marat Safin, and Davydenko.

Roddick’s opponent on Day One, Dmitry Tursunov, had beaten him a year ago in the Davis Cup semis, 17-15 in the fifth, to clinch the tie for Russia. But on this afternoon, on one of the slickest carpets you’ll see in tennis these days , Tursunov was strangely subdued (had he been advised to hit this slowly?), and in short order was hammered 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Roddick threw down 25 aces and played precisely the kind of rapid, low-stress match his teammate Blake had hoped for. For Blake – like any teammate – had too often had his energy sapped awaiting his turn at bat.

Blake Breaks Through

Clearly Blake was the man under the microscope this weekend. Only this past September had he at last earned a victory in a five-set match. Though his effort was always exemplary, his Davis Cup results were spotty. Too prone to get down on himself, often unable to grub his way through rough spots, Blake knew that versus Mikhail Youzhny he’d encounter a full spectrum of emotions.

I was sitting ten feet behind the U.S. team bench for much of this match, two rows in front of Blake’s mother, Betty. Aware of how tentative he could get in big matches, Blake played fine attacking tennis to earn the first two sets. When he lost the third in a tiebreaker, the tension was palpable. Youzhny is one rough customer, his one-handed backhand elegant and powerful, his all-court prowess impressive. Blake served for the match at 5-4 and played a miserable game. When Youzhny took a 2-0 lead in the tiebreak, a fifth seemed in the offing.

But this was Davis Cup, and with his team cheering him on, Blake found enough to get even. Serving at 3-4, Youzhny made a fatal tactical error, attempting a drop shot from further back than he could ever make at such a tight stage. It nestled into the net, giving Blake enough of a cushion to surge to victory. Soon after, Blake ran into the crowd, his sweat dripping over several of us, to give Betty a grand hug and thank her for everything. Sweet, sincere, passionate – not exactly what you’d see in a routine opening round elsewhere. As Blake noted, this was clearly the biggest win of his entire career. It was also the pivotal match in the entire tie.

McEnroe Brings it Home

Afterwards, captain McEnroe looked as weary as if he’d flown the red-eye. “Sure, he watched two matches, we each only played one,” joked Blake.

The next morning I bumped into McEnroe as he walked off the practice court with Bob Bryan. Though he looked more rested than he had Friday night, McEnroe was hardly a daisy. Like Blake, like Roddick, he knew how important this all was. As they had so many times going back to his brother’s days as a player, McEnroe’s parents, Kay and John, were on-site. Betty Blake was joined by her oldest son, Thomas. Besides his coach, John, Roddick’s contingent included parents Blanche and Jerry, as well as brother Lawrence. Certainly aware of all this support and expectation two hours before the doubles match, Patrick turned to me and said, “How ‘bout we get this done today?”

Though the Bryans were heavy favorites, as every tennis player knows, being told you should bludgeon someone is often poisonous. Again, the microscopic intensity of Davis Cup made matters quite different early on. When Mike and Bob failed to cash in a break point on Igor Andreev and Daydenko’s opening service game, the set advanced in rather tight fashion. Andreev’s forehand was massive and his volleys were disruptive. Davydenko was solid. With the Russians leading 3-1 in the first set tiebreak, a long day loomed.

This time I was two rows in front of Wayne Bryan, who on this big moment had gone against his custom and decided to see his boys in-person. He was with a flock of his friends, all wearing T-shirts and cheering the boys on.

“You watch,” said the man on my right, Mark Bey, a prominent Chicago coach who’d known the brothers since they were juniors. “If they can get out of this, they’ll break it open.”

Bey was right as rain. Soon after they wriggled out of the first set, the Bryans opened the second with a service break. Still, to watch a match this closely, to see the twists and turns of every single point, speaks volumes to the intensity and skill it take to play world class tennis. Andreev and Davydenko did not roll over. But they were beaten, eventually, toothpick by toothpick, the Bryans assembling their share of serves, volleys and, most impressive of all, Mike’s crisp service returns. The score told everything: 7-6, 6-4, 6-2. As the celebration got underway, tennis for once took on football-like qualities.

Now check out this notion: America’s decline as a tennis power has made it better-equipped for Davis Cup. For there was a time when our best players were tumbling over each other fighting for the select few goodies at the very top. It hardly made Sampras, Agassi, Courier and Chang buddies the way Roddick, Blake et al have been. Even worse, back in those days, the riches of having so many top tenners available made recruitment confusing and destined to incur rancor. At other times, it was even worse, such as when John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors formed an alleged “Dream Team” that refused at times to even occupy the same hotel.

But this squad is different. Only Roddick has been a top ten player for long. Blake barely made into the top ten in 2006 and fell out of that perch in ’07. Others who’ve played over the course of McEnroe’s tenure – Fish, Ginepri, Taylor Dent – are still seeking to become top 20 mainstays. The Bryans are all about doubles. The upshot is that these guys are each occupying enough different places on the tennis ladder to feel gracious enough to support one another.

Roddick deserves much credit for this. Dedicated as John McEnroe was to Davis Cup, during the year he hardly ever spoke graciously about such teammates as Brian Gottfried, Gene Mayer or Eliot Teltscher. Davis Cup during those years seemed more a matter of John McEnroe and his backup band. In contrast, Roddick during the rest of the year is often quite generous in praising the skills and chances of such good buddies as his former housemate Fish, his friend Blake and many others.

And while on the subject of McEnroe, pass another heaping of credit for this team’s success to the captain. I am sick of reading articles that say his all-time great of a brother left the job because he was unable to convince top players such as Sampras and Agassi to play for him. The truth is that John McEnroe’s leadership skills are negligible. Yes, he led by example as a player. But as a captain, leadership requires engagement the ability to carefully point others towards a goal – and in tennis, a goal that by design does not always capture a player’s complete attention. John McEnroe was clueless in this department, essentially tanking the job once the team lost in the 2000 semis. As with so many aspects of his life – art, music, his cable TV show – he was unwilling to put in the heavy lifting required for long-term success.

Patrick McEnroe approached the task with a completely different attitude. He has worked hard to instill and gain confidence with this group. He has personally road-tested various surfaces and made the team’s demands quite clear to the USTA. Through dozens of text messages, e-mails, phone calls and time spent watching and occasionally working with these players, he has led by dint of gentle persuasion.

But he’s also no wallflower. He has publicly criticized Roddick and Blake for various tennis-related matters. He held off on bringing the Bryans on-board until he felt they were a truly dominant team. And in one of my favorite off-court moments of the tie, he gave a fumbling reporter a hawk-like look that was just forceful enough to get the message across without telling the gentleman to jump in the lake. Here’s the interaction:

Q. Patrick, I don't know if you're aware of what the Russian coach just said 15 minutes ago, that he came here with a strategy. If James probably would have lost yesterday he would have put in for the doubles the same team like Tursunov and Youzhny and saved Davydenko and Andreev for tomorrow. How would you feel if that would happen? How would you feel today if you know the score was 2‑1 for the U.S. and have to face two fresh players for tomorrow's matches?

CAPTAIN McENROE: I think it's 3‑0. I think it's over. It's over.

So wave your flag for USA. But most of all, think less of America’s 300 million citizens and more about Patrick, Andy, James, Bob and Mike.
12-08-2007 08:22 PM
Re: The "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 2007 DC t

girls did you all already voted for Andy?

he is in trouble to make the next round
This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome