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U.S. Davis Cup: Fish Replaces Injured Roddick, Blake Ready To Rebound After 1st Round Wimbledon Loss

Thursday, July 9, 2009

James Blake, USA Davis Cup Press Conference
(Photos by Getty Images)


POREC, Croatia – Now that the sting of losing Davis Cup stalwart Andy Roddick is out of the way, the United States has re-grouped, come together as a team and begun its preparations to play in the 2009 Davis Cup Quarterfinals against Croatia.

The match-up took a dramatic turn on Monday when Roddick was replaced by Mardy Fish in the U.S. lineup. Roddick suffered an injured right hip flexor during his five-set loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon men’s singles final.

Fish, who had just returned home from England to Tampa, Fla., following the Wimbledon doubles semifinals with partner James Blake, received the news late on Sunday from U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe that he was needed to play against Croatia.

“We are certainly disappointed that Roddick could not come to play,” said McEnroe at the team press conference on Tuesday. “He’s been a Davis Cup stalwart for many, many years, so we’ll miss him. We are certainly very happy and confident with the team that we have that we have a good chance to get a win this week.”

Last year, playing in his first Davis Cup match since the 2004 final, Fish filled in for an injured Bob Bryan and partnered with Mike Bryan to win the doubles, keeping the U.S. alive against Spain in the 2008 semifinals.

“Part of Davis Cup is being able to have other players step in,” said McEnroe. “That is what Croatia is doing in some way, and we’re doing the same. We have guys that have a lot of experience and have played a lot of big matches for us in Davis Cup.

“It is a great opportunity for these guys to do it without Andy. It’s a big challenge for us, but we’re excited about the challenge. We’re all a team. Everyone is going to pull their weight. They’re going to have to pull a little more weight this time.”

The 2009 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal tie between the United States and Croatia will take place from Friday, July 10, to Sunday, July 12, in Porec, Croatia, at the Zatika Sports Hall on a temporary indoor clay court.

Croatia is 2-0 against the United States in Davis Cup, making it the only country that the United States has not beaten and also the only country to have a winning record against the U.S. Davis Cup team.

Roddick had played in 18 consecutive Davis Cup matches, tied for the second longest streak in U.S. Davis Cup history with current teammate Mike Bryan.

“Andy has had a very tough recovery from Wimbledon,” said McEnroe. “He injured his right hip flexor a little bit during the match. He is pretty spent physically and emotionally.”

Coincidentally, the only other tie Roddick has missed since joining the U.S. Davis Cup team was the 2003 first round at Croatia after suffering a wrist injury during his epic five-set win over Younes El Aynaoui en route to the Australian Open semifinals.

Without Roddick, the U.S. will look to Blake to fill in as its No. 1 singles player. In a recent playing slump, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon, Blake is looking to rebound against the Croatians and carry that momentum into the Olympus US Open Series and US Open.

“I feel good about it now,” said the 17th-ranked Blake. “I put that first-round loss way behind me. Luckily I have had a couple of weeks to distance myself from that. Hopefully here will get me going on the right track going into the summer.”

Also missing one of their key players, former top 10-ranked player Mario Ancic, the Croatians will be led by Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic, both coming off excellent performances at Wimbledon.

“Mario Ancic is not here, and he is very important for us as a team leader,” said Croatian Captain Goran Prpic. “We will try as much as possible to take advantage of Roddick not being here, but I don't agree that we are favorites right now. It seems that many people now think we only have to walk on the court, and that's it. It is an open tie. We have quality, there's no doubt about it, but so does the U.S. team. We can win all four singles matches, and we can lose all four."

“Croatia has a great team,” said McEnroe. “(Marin) Cilic and (Ivo) Karlovic are very, very good players. Obviously, them playing at home, the home team always has a slight advantage. But we have a lot of experience playing Davis Cup and playing against their players. I think it is a pretty even match.”

Blake is a career 2-3 against Karlovic and 2-0 against Cilic. Fish lost to Cilic in the 2008 Pilot Pen Tennis final, their only meeting, and is a career 1-4 against Karlovic.

The order of play will be determined on Thursday at the draw ceremony, scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. local time at the Istrian Council House in Porec.

The weekend schedule consists of two singles matches on Friday (10 a.m. ET), the doubles match on Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET), and two reverse singles matches on Sunday (10 a.m. ET).

Tennis Channel will air live daily coverage of Friday’s and Sunday’s singles matches at 10 a.m. ET. Saturday’s doubles match will air live at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Tennis Channel will continue its Davis Cup primetime tradition and rebroadcast matches nightly at 8 p.m. ET.


Posted by Shelia

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