PMac's Madrid blog
Entry No. 1 -- Tuesday, Sept. 16
Welcome back, Davis Cup fans, to what should be another fantastic series against Spain. We played Spain last year in Winston-Salem, N.C., and were victorious, but this is a totally different situation. Rafael Nadal is back in a Spanish uniform, and our hosts have made the conditions as difficult as possible. We’re playing on red clay in front of over 21,000 fans in the middle of a bullfighting ring in Madrid!
As most of you know, Andy and I worked together recently at the US Open. We’ve always gotten along well, and I think we respected each other. We didn’t always agree on everything, but it was fun for me to be there with him at the Open and try to help him. I thought he came around and had a pretty good tournament and played well. So I think he feels pretty good about where his game’s at. I’ll always be there to help him when he needs it. Obviously, it would be tough for me to be his full-time coach, but we had a few good weeks together, and we’re sort of continuing it here.
Meanwhile, James has had a rough summer. He played a lot of tennis, and I think he was just honest with me, which is all you can ask of your players. He just said to me, ‘Listen, I just don’t think I’m the best guy to go over there. I’m physically and mentally spent.’ When you hear that from one of your guys, you just have to respect him for being honest and tell him that you understand.
But at the same time, I’ve told the guys since I took this job that I want the guys who want to be there, and obviously James has done that over the years. James looked at himself in the mirror and knew that he had done a bunch of traveling and played a ton of tennis. I think you could even say that at the Open he was a little bit spent. To come over here, he knew that he was going to have to be physically ready to play on clay and that it would be difficult. This doesn’t affect the way I feel about his future on the team.
At the same time, I’m excited about Sam and Mardy being here. Mardy has been a great soldier for us. He’s been there but not playing, so this is a great opportunity for him, too.
It’s obviously going to feel different on Saturday without both of the Bryan brothers in uniform.
But we’re still going to put out a real good team. As good as Bob and Mike have been, people say it’s always been an automatic point, but it’s never an automatic. You’ve got to go out there and do it and prepare and practice. We’re playing a good team, most likely, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. They’re excellent, playing the Bryans tough before. If it’s Mardy out there with Mike, it’s a great opportunity for them to go out there in a big match and play well. I think if Mardy can focus in on the doubles but also be available for singles in case we need him, it’ll work out quite well.
The camaraderie with this group of guys is great. The Bryans and Sam were down at Andy’s place in Austin, Texas, before they came here, playing exhibitions and practicing together.
When we found out that James and Bob definitely weren’t coming, I called Mardy, and he was great, saying whatever we needed him to do, that he’d be there and ready to step in. That makes my job a lot easier to know that the guys are willing to do whatever we’re asking them to do. Mardy has a lot of things on his plate, with the wedding coming up, so that means a lot to me and the other guys on the team.
It’s always nice to have more options. As I’ve said before, we’ve been lucky to have two great singles players and a great doubles team. Obviously, that helped us win the Cup last year. But it’s hard to do that match after match, so it’s nice to have other guys that you can call on. This weekend is a great opportunity for some of the other guys to get out there and show what they can do in this atmosphere.