2015/04/28

US Falls to Italy in Fed Cup World Group Play-off

Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

(April 19, 2015) Italy has now won five straight Fed cup ties against the United States with their 3-2 win on Sunday in the World Group playoff in Brindisi, Italy.

No. 1 Serena Williams had to fight her way back against Sara Errani to take the first match of the day 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead over Italy.

“Today has been a big eye opener,” Williams said. “I need to go home and train.  I am totally not ready for clay court season as I thought I was.  This was a great match for me, even if I had lost, I think it would have been a wonderful match.  That is one good thing about playing Fed Cup and things like this it gives you the practice that you normally would not get.”

 

In the second match, hometown girl Flavia Pennetta demolished Christina McHale 6-1, 6-1 to even up the tie at 2-2.

The final rubber of the tie which was the doubles, saw Williams lost her first match of her Fed Cup career when she paired with Alison Riske and fell to Pennetta and Errani 6-0, 6-3 which sealed the tie for Italy.

Williams is now 13-0 in Singles and 3-1 in doubles in Fed Cup competition.

On playing against Pennetta and Errani in doubles, Williams said: “They are a very solid team and obviously, they have both been No. 1 in doubles.  I have been No. 1, so I felt like I had the opportunity to take some chances and do the best I can.  They were the better team today and ultimately, they got the win, which they deserved since they played better.”

Italy will return to the World Group and can compete for the Fed Cup trophy in 2016 while the U.S. will fall to World Group II.

Asked about the future of the U. S. Fed Cup team, Captain Mary Joe Fernandez said: “I think it is a big challenge.  We have to work harder.  We came close today and just keep plugging away.  The good news is that we have a lot of players in the Top 100 and hopefully, we can get two wins next year and get back into the World Group.”

 

The 2016 Fed Cup draw will be made in June.

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U.S. and Italy End Day One at 1-1 in Fed Cup

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(April 18, 2015) After day one, the United States and Italy are ties at 1-1 in the Fed Cup World Group Playoff being played at Circolo Tennis Brindisi in Brindisi, Italy.

World No. 1 Serena Williams led off the day holding off world No. 36 Camila Giorgi, 7-6(5), 6-2, raising her Fed Cup singles record to 12-0.

“The first set was tough,” said Williams. “I needed to stay calm and make more shots, especially the deeper ones. I think I was hitting them short. So once I started hitting deeper, things worked out.”

“Camila played really well and had a great game plan. That is the player she is. She goes for it a lot. I love to watch her play because she is so feisty on the court. I love her game how she hits so hard.  I know her game really well, so it was not a surprise.”

Sara Errani leveled the tie in the next match, demolishing Lauren Davis, making her singles debut for the United States 6-1, 6-2 in 70 minutes.

“It was a good experience for me,” Davis said.  “I thought I handled myself well.  Sara played very well and was solid and consistent. Given the situation, I think I did okay.”

“Lauren competed really well,” said US Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “It is a tough match-up on clay.  Sara has so much experience and defends so well and is also very aggressive.  I thought there were a few games where Lauren had opportunities where it was deuce or break point.  Against a player of that caliber, you have to win those games and then maybe you have a chance.  Sara played really well under pressure and those points very well.”

The winner of the tie this weekend will return to World Group 1 and can compete for the Fed Cup next year while the loser will fall back into World Group II.

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Serena Williams Leads US Fed Cup Team Against Italy

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(April 17, 2015) For the fifth time in the last seven years the U.S. and Italy face-off in Fed Cup. Italy has won the last four contests, but the U.S. leads overall 9-4. The teams last faced each other last year in the World Group Quarterfinal in Cleveland, where Italy won, 3-1.

 

The United States will take on Italy in the Fed Cup World Playoff on the outdoor red clay court at Circolo Tennis Brindisi in Brindisi, Italy. Play begins Saturday at 1:00 pm local time (7:00 am ET).

 

No. 1 Serena Williams and world No. 36 Camila Giorgi will open the tie on Saturday. Williams is a perfect 11-0 in singles record in Fed Cup competition for the United States. She represented the USA earlier this year in the World Group II First Round against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

 

“Every time I step on the clay, I feel refreshed,” Williams said after the draw ceremony on Friday. “I love playing on the clay and my clay court game feels great.  It’s a great surface for me. I feel good playing one, two, or three matches this weekend.”

 

This will be the fourth straight Fed Cup tie for Giorgi where she’s 2-2 in singles. She made her debut in Fed Cup last year in the World Group Quarterfinal against the U.S. in Cleveland, where she beat Madison Keys.

 

“We all know from Cleveland last year that Camila is very dangerous,” said USA Fed cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez. “She hits the ball extremely hard and flat and goes for it. You have to be ready for anything playing Giorgi. She is coming off a good week by reaching a WTA final last week, so it will be tough.”

 

The second match on Saturday will feature the Fed Cup singles debut of American Lauren Davis, ranked No 57 in the world Davis will take on world No. 15 Sara Errani.

 

“I am very excited and love being a part of this team of three great girls,” Davis said. “This will be my first singles match for Fed Cup, so it will be a great experience for me and great opportunity to play for my team.”

 

Errani has played in 16 Fed Cup ties for Italy and has an 11-8 singles record. Errani leads Davis 2-1 in head-to-head competition.

 

“With Errani, you have to work and earn your victory, especially on clay, since she is so consistent,” Fernandez said. It comes down to discipline, constructing your points, and being patient with her. We are going to have two tough matches. Hopefully we can get quick starts and keep it up throughout the weekend.

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group in 2016 for a chance to compete for the Fed Cup trophy. The losing nation will fall back to World Group II in 2016.

 

ORDER OF PLAY

Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

Singles A: Serena Williams (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Singles B: Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.

Singles C: Serena Williams (USA) vs. Sara Errani (ITA)

Singles D: Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Doubles: Doubles: Alison Riske/Christina McHale (USA) vs. Flavia Pennetta/Karin Knapp (ITA)

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Murray seals the deal as GB win their first round tie over the USA again

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(March 8, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If at all possible the applause the loudest it has been for the three days, as the live fourth rubber set up a thrilling conclusion to the Great Britain-US Davis Cup tie.

 

With a vocal John Isner thundering down six aces in just his second service game, before he closed it out, you had a feeling we could be going to very long tie-breaks. After all if Isner hits six aces he would expect to be up by a couple of games at least, and not requiring that effort just to nab his second.

 

In fact it was the flat-footed-sounding Isner that flirted with the first break-point opportunities dulling the enthusiasm of the Glasgow crowd for just a little. There would be more drama to come in the eighth game as Murray put the crowd’s loyalty through its paces delivering them two double-faults and fending off three break points before finally grinding out a hold.

 

Isner might be one big unit but he showed early on how he could keep pace in the kinds of rallies that Murray likes to use. And it’s not as if the Brit was struggling with his movement, even throwing in one of those drop shots at a crunch moment for an audacious winner.

 

But there was no denying that Isner was beginning to get his eye in. He was less vocal and less slap-footed around the court now as he sensed he could turn the screw. Pushing Andy Murray every step of the way as the Brit was serving at 4-5, Isner forced 3 set points as the weak second Murray serve presented very hittable opportunities. Yet he could not take advantage as Murray dredged up serves to get him out of trouble.

 

We got to a first set tie-break, but not quite in the manner we thought, and soe terrible shot-making from Isner put GB in front by just enough to keep the advantage, and a collective sigh of relief from 7,700 people.

 

The second set saw Murray hold his serve much more comfortably, and even if Isner was getting a look at his second serve, much of the American’s pace on his whipping forehand was tempered as Murray earned his first break point on the Isner serve after one hour and 25 minutes. Even then, Murray showed him no less than three looks at a second serve as he worked to consolidate the break, to no avail for the American.

Two sets up, the question was would this go the distance, or even creep over four sets? Again there were moments when it looked as though Isner would steal the upper hand as Murray squandered his challenges and sent a few pleading looks the way of the umpire as Isner’s serves thundered past him.

 

Pushing up to a tie-break again, there was a huge crescendo of noise which, if anything, was louder than Murray’s entry into the arena. If the first mini-break was enough to get hopes up, as Murray surged ahead to finish it with an ace to book the British team into the quarter-finals. Final score 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4).

 

Interviewed on court after jumping around with members of the team, Murray did the honours in thanking the crowd as well as hinting that perhaps it might be time for Tennis Scotland to use grass for something other than football.

 

“The whole week has been so much fun. This is one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in so I would like to say a big thank you to all these guys,“ Murray said.

“With a home tie against France in the summer I’d imagine we would try to put that on a grass court. I don’t know how many they have in Glasgow but if they could lay one that would be great as the atmosphere has been incredible.”

“To be in the quarterfinals for a second year when it hasn’t happened for so long is incredible.”

Last year the British team also knocked out the USA in the first round of Davis Cup on a clay court in San Diego.

 

“This is a deserved win,” Murray said. “The attitude of everyone was excellent. Everyone fought extremely hard, especially when we were behind in the matches, no one gave up. Every person played extremely hard.

“It was huge momentum for us in winning James’ (Ward) match. We were also so close yesterday to winning 3-0, so I felt some pressure today to close it out. The way John approached the match made it difficult.”

Asked about Great Britain’s chances to win Davis Cup, US Captain Jim Courier said:

“When you have a great champion like Andy, against most teams, they should feel like they are up 2-0 going in. The way their doubles team played was impressive. Bob and Mike played unbelievably well yesterday and they were pushed to the wire. It only takes three to win.”

So where does the US Davis Cup team go from here?

“Our team changes, ‘ Courier said.  “You always try to make some adjustments and go forward. We play again in September, so I have time to assess everything. It takes time to process defeats like this and try to figure out what you can learn from it and improve going forward.”

 

With the next tie straight after Wimbledon, debates are already taking place as to where possible venues could be, as the prospect of holding an outside tournament in an English summer against the French could be intriguing.

The Davis Cup quarter-finals will take place between July 17 – 19.

As for the United States, they will play for a chance to stay in the World Group the week after the US Open concludes in September in the World Group Play-offs.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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Bryan Brothers Keep Hope Alive for US with Five-set Win in Davis Cup

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(March 7, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If you had asked anyone at the start of the day whether they would expect to be on the edge of their seats once more in Glasgow, you would have been hard pushed to find anyone to agree with you.

For team USA, the Bryan brothers came to play and they ripped through the first two sets in less than an hour, and even had match points to end it all in the fourth set, but somehow the Brits found a way to hang on.

It was not the easiest of comebacks for Jamie Murray, who got the nod to play along with the in-form Dominic Inglot who had already recorded two wins this season over the twins.

Finally holding his serve in the third set, it seemed to spur the Brits on to greater glories as the Bryan’s intensity dropped a little, while Dominic Inglot proved to be on fire at the net and Murray started to paint the lines with burning accuracy,

There was a hint of danger for the scratch pairing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd as the tall rangy Inglot found himself under pressure to hold his serve for the first time but dig himself out of a whole with some very solid serving as Murray dug deep to hold again to force a fourth set tie-breaker.

Two set points came and went for the Brits but they struggled to make it count, and a nifty Bryan poach suddenly brought up match point for the Americans. The threats seemed to come quick and fast for the Brits, and once more the risks paid off for the home team as they forced the decider.

It looked as though this match would be another long one, but at 7-7 a Murray volley found the net to give the Bryans a chance to serve it out, and they took it to set up a thrilling close.

Inglot just catching the edge of his racquet to a stinging return from the Bryan’s spelled danger as they took the mini-break for a 5-3 lead on their serve. A great stretch from Inglot pulled the Brits back on serve as the Brits clung on to bring up their first set point to force a decider. Inglot was poaching once more at the net to bring up their second set point but the pair could not find a way to close once more. A Bryan interception spun the advantage to the visitors, on their serve.

Inglot’s thundering return kept the Brits hanging in and Murray painting the lines brought up a third set point for the Brits, forcing the Americans into a decider.

Despite both Inglot and Murray requiring treatment during the decider, no quarter was being given now by either pairing as the fifth set wound its way on. With the threat of the first break points looming for the Americans on Murray’s serve at 7-7, a nicked edge saved the Brits albeit briefly and Murray’s missed half volley finding the net handing the Bryans a chance to serve for the match as they closed out the visitors’ first win.

The Bryans picked up their first five set win in the Davis Cup, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(8), 9-7, previously having been 0-2, but then they had also never lost in the Davis Cup from two sets up.

They admitted how much it meant to get their first five set win in the Davis Cup, saying: “We lost a couple of heartbreakers in 2013 so if we got this opportunity again, we were actually telling each other let’s erase all that pain and this was a great way to do it, is to win an very emotional match, I thought we played a great match, those guys didn’t give us an inch all day. Jamie returned well and served well. They made a ton of first serves and cleaned up the volleys. We had to bring out best stuff to win.”

“We didn’t let up,” Mike Bryan chimed in. “They hit great returns. They were going for it the whole way. We had been playing well all week and we played a great match today and it came down to a few points. The margins were really small. We had a couple of looks in the fourth set. But, all credit to them. They hit some alley shots and lines and served big when they had to. It came down to the wire.”

“The biggest luxury is having these guys on the team,” said US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier of the Bryan brothers. “They continue to come through for us.”

John Isner will face Andy Murray in the live fourth rubber in reverse singles on Sunday with Great Britain leading the tie 2-1.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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James Ward pulls it out of the bag once more as Great Britain takes a 2-0 lead over the USA in Davis Cup

(March 6, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – It was always going to be a tough ask for James Ward to come up against John Isner and pull out the same kind of miraculous win he did against Sam Querrey in San Diego.

 

The British No. 2 has been working hard on his fitness, and it showed as he kept pace with Isner in the first set, even building up enough of a head of steam to lead 4-2 in the first set tie-break before the US No. 1 thumped home five points in a row to deny him.

 

The crowd was kept at bay after their noisy enthusiasm in the first match when Isner broke to pick off the second set, and it was sure to be a long way back for the Londoner.

 

But there is something about Davis Cup that brings out the best in James Ward. Jim Courier may have described him as streaky but when he has his good patches, they can be hugely impressive, as he pushed through a third set tie-break and this time there was no relinquishing any advantage.

 

For a time it looked as though Isner would pick up the pace and close this out in the fourth set but somehow Ward found a way to push through again, and from what had looked like a winning position, Isner was facing yet another marathon.

 

Ward seemed to have the fresher legs – Courier had expressed his admiration for Ward’s energy and performance in San Diego even when he was down, whereas Isner looked increasingly more tired. He could barely even stretch for balls but denied suffering from cramp in his post match press conference.

 

Losing 15-13 in the fifth hurt, as he very candidly shared as he faced the media with Jim Courier at his side. After having won the epic match at Wimbledon, he admitted he had lost tough matches before, but this was quite raw.

 

He said: “I’ve lost a lot of tough matches before. They suck. Simple as that. It’s brutal and I’m barely going to sleep tonight. It’s awful.”

 

He continued: “I’m healthy, mentally I’m certainly a bit shaken right now, but I’ve got to be a professional and bring my best on Sunday. Tomorrow I’ll rest. I don’t feel too chipper right now, but as Jim said I’ll let it rip on Sunday if the match is live.”

 

For Ward, the 6-7(4), 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 15-13 win was just as emotional, and he sounded quite choked up as he gave his on-court post-match interview, saying: “This is by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever been part of in the Davis Cup. I would prefer it if I didn’t have to play these five-set matches every time, but the crowd was incredible and really helped.”

 

Great Britain ends day one up 2-0, need just one more victory to clinch the tie. The doubles rubber will be played on Saturday with Bob and Mike Bryan trying to keep tie hopes alive for the US when they face the British team of Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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Andy Murray Dominates Donald Young to Give Great Britain 1-0 Lead in Davis Cup

(March 6, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – In front of a rapturous crowd, Andy Murray’s triumphant homecoming started in fine style as he delivered a four set win over Donald Young in the Davis Cup World Group first round tie against the USA.

Ahead of the tie, he had seemed downbeat and almost wary of the reception he would receive but he needn’t have worried as the crowd roared their approval as he was introduced before the tie began.

From the outset he was moving well, with great range and focus, and Young was little more than a bystander as the first set shot by in 21 minutes, swiftly followed by the second as Murray built up a 6-1, 6-1 lead.

Earlier this week USA Team Captain Jim Courier stressed that the one thing he had learned was to communicate with his team and there was plenty of that going on as he tried to pick the demoralised Young up, and it started to work for him as Murray’s intensity dulled a little in the third set.

Young said: “He started to miss a little more, I kinda loosened up. I was getting whupped pretty good so I started to hit the ball and was able to string some points together in a row an get into his service games which I could not do in the first two sets.”

Murray admitted that although he had let his guard down a little in the third set, he was very happy with the win.

“I had a slight maybe lull in intensity but I couldn’t maintain the intensity I had in the first couple of sets in the whole match, because it was tough, but I was really happy with the way I played.”

It was perhaps more vital to give Young a little more confidence should the tie come down to a live fifth rubber, but Murray lifted his game for the early break at the start of the third set, and did not look back, securing a double break buffer and serving the match out for the win 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

After the match he spoke about the crowd, in the sold-out Emirates Arena.

“It’s the biggest home tie that I’ve played, in front of the biggest crowd. I would say definitely the biggest indoor crowd. When we played at Wimbledon the crowds were big but the stadium also wasn’t full.

“I think that when I played at the Olympics as well it was a similar sort of reception there, and that’s the nice thing about playing in the Davis Cup, is having these home ties that you can play in front of crowds that are right behind you. That’s the best part of the competition.”

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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Davis Cup in Glasgow: Communication Key for Courier

(March 5, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – While it was a jolly British team, joking amongst themselves who took to the round of interviews first, it was an altogether more thoughtful Unites States team that offered their thoughts after the Davis Cup first round draw was made.

 

Donald Young will be the first to face the home crowds in Andy Murray’s old stomping grounds, and having scored a famous victory over Murray during his 2011 post-Australian Open final walkabout, Young has hardly troubled the Brit since, but after being pulled in last year in San Diego to replace an injured John Isner, this time he was picked in his own right. His results over the past month have lent some much-needed consistency to his play, and this in turn has given him some confidence.

 

Leading the news conference questions, Young said: “I feel more comfortable and confident than last year. Last year was my first time competing in Davis Cup. I had a ton of nerves starting the match off. It will be a tough match either way because Andy is a great player, but I feel like I am playing well and I look forward to seeing what happens.”

 

With Isner having made some measure of James Ward, as they play the second rubber, he acknowledged that the Brits have chosen a surface and speed to perhaps dull his chances as well as making the transition for Murray a little easier.

 

He said: “It may neutralise my serve a little bit. But I’m happy with the court. The British team chose it, we have no control.”

 

Of course he is the favourite to steam through and put the pressure back on the Brits. While Murray played down his chances of partnering with his elder brother Jamie, Bob and Mike Bryan know that a match up between them and the Murrays is what the Saturday crowd will really want. But while Jamie Murray’s consistent play earned him a spot back in the Davis Cup side over stalwart Colin Fleming, it is Dominic Inglot who has the upper hand so far over the Bryans.

 

Bob said: “Dom Inglot has the hot hand, he’s played us well in the last couple of matches so we’re prepared for him.” Mike agreed, adding, “He’s aggressive, he’s a big guy – not really lob-able. He’s all over the net. He plays with a lot of power, which is the kind of the new age of doubles, the power game. So you’ve got to find a way to break him, which is tough. You know if I was the coach, it would tough to leave a guy who has a hot hand off the team so he’s got a tough decision.”

 

Above all though Courier knows that his communication with the team will be key – something he feels he has learned to improve in every tie.

Courier said: “I think, from my experience with Donald on the bench in San Diego now, we have some communication that we can rely on because we’ve been through a match and the fire together. It’s important he and I are comfortable together because these guys need to feel comfortable because they’re used to playing their whole lives without someone sitting next to them talking to them during the match.

“It’s important that I stay out of their or get in their way when I need to interject and do it at the right times, and that’s a judgment call based on experience.

“Now Donald and I have some, John, Bob and Mike and I have a lot of experience in that realm so far, so I’m feeling more comfortable, I hope they are.”

The time for talking though is now over, and come 1pm in UK time Young will walk out to a ferociously passionate crowd and a home hero in every sense of the word.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Order of Play for the tie:

Friday, March 6 – 1:00 p.m.   

Singles A: Donald Young (USA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Singles B: John Isner (USA) vs. James Ward (GBR)

Saturday, March 7 – 1:00 p.m.                      

Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Jamie Murray/Dominic Inglot (GBR)

Sunday, March 8 – 1:00 p.m.                         

Singles C: John Isner (USA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Singles D: Donald Young (USA) vs. James Ward (GBR)

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Tennis Channel to Broadcast Great Britain – US Davis Cup Tie

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(March 5, 2015) -Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round competition against Britain in Glasgow, Scotland, this weekend, with the first match underway Friday, March 6, at 8 a.m. ET. The United States and Britain, whose rivalry began Davis Cup in 1900 – when the tournament field consisted of just the two of them – find themselves in a rematch of last year’s first round, when the British team defeated the Americans 3-1 in San Diego. Highlighting the matchup, top-ranked American John Isner will face former Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray. Although Murray holds a 3-0 record against Isner, the pair have never faced each other in Davis Cup play. Rounding out the United States team is Donald Young and World No. 1 doubles brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.

 

The meeting will consist of two singles matches on Friday, followed by the doubles match Saturday, March 7, at 8 a.m. ET. Tennis Channel’s coverage concludes with the remaining singles play Sunday, March 8, at 9 a.m. ET. Each match is worth one point, with three victories enough to secure a trip to the July quarterfinals to face either France or Germany.

 

Tennis Channel will also offer live coverage of the France-Germany competition in Frankfurt, Germany on Tennis Channel’s digital subscription service, Tennis Channel Plus, Friday-Sunday. Stars set to play include France’s Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet; and Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber.Tennis Channel will also offer select live coverage of Belgium-Switzerland play in Liege, Belgium, Friday, March 6, beginning at 8 a.m. ET.

 

Emmy Award-winning announcer Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) will handle play-by-play responsibilities during Tennis Channel’s United States-Britain Davis Cup coverage this weekend, with former U.S. Davis Cup player Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob) in the analyst’s role. Former tennis player Leif Shiras (@LShirock) and renowned tennis coach Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone) will call action for the France-Germany tie airing on Tennis Channel Plus. Following all Davis Cup action this weekend, all Tennis Channel’s on-air talent members will discuss the day’s action.

 

Tennis Channel’s Live Davis Cup coverage is as follows (all time ET):

Friday, March 6:

8 a.m. – Singles #1 United States v. Britain / Belgium v. Switzerland

11 a.m. – Singles #2 United States v. Britain / Belgium v. Switzerland

 

Saturday, March 7:

8 a.m. – Doubles United States v. Britain / Belgium v. Switzerland

 

Sunday, March 8:

8:30 a.m. – Singles #1 Belgium v. Switzerland

9 a.m. – Singles #1 United States v. Britain

11:30 a.m. – Singles #2 Belgium v. Switzerland

12 p.m. – Singles #2 United States v. Britain

 

The United States holds an 11-8 advantage over Britain. The two countries’ rivalry dates back to 1900, when a group of Americans led by Harvard tennis player Dwight Davis, who won the intercollegiate singles championship as a student in 1899, challenged Britain in what became the first Davis Cup competition. The most recent meeting between the two nations was during the same stage of Davis Cup play last year, when Britain beat the United States in San Diego. The American squad is bidding to win its first Davis Cup crown since 2007 and leads all nations with 23 Davis Cup titles.

 

The U.S. Davis Cup team is captained by Jim Courier, who as a player was on the 1999 team that beat Britain. Isner, the tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history, at 6-foot-10, won his ninth career singles title at last year’s Emirates Airline US Open Series in Atlanta and reached the third round at the Australian Open this year. Young, who made his debut appearance for the U.S. Davis Cup team during the first round last year, enters this weekend’s competition after advancing to his second ATP singles final in Delray Beach, Fla. Twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, the world’s top-ranked doubles team, hold the all-time Open era record with 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles and captured an Olympic gold medal in doubles at the London games in 2012.

 

After defeating the United States in the first round last year, Britain lost to Italy in the quarterfinals last April. This year’s team is captained by Leon Smith and features Murray, James Ward, Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot. Britain has clinched the Davis Cup trophy on nine occasions.

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Davis Cup in Glasgow – Can the US overturn Britain’s home advantage?

(March 4, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – The pre-draw news conference was really a tale of two confident captains and cautious players, as the teams readied themselves for the Davis Cup World Group first round, as Great Britain plays host to the USA.

 

British Team Captain Leon Smith did a lot of the talking, between dispensing with any discussion about the possible ramifications of Andy Murray’s support for the Scottish Referendum, Yes vote at the eleventh hour, preferring to concentrate on the tennis, but Courier was quick to acknowledge that they were aware of the situation.

 

“We obviously know there’s some political undercurrent here as well, we’re aware of that. I think it just adds a little bit of intrigue and it’s another wrinkle of the element in this competition. We know what it means to everyone to play for their country and maybe a little extra special for Andy and Jamie playing here in Scotland. For us it is business but we’re also aware of that extra little wrinkle.”

 

As much as Smith believed that the US had not used their advantage to its full effect last year, US Captain Jim Courier knows the power his players have to inflict the same result on the hosts.

 

Courier continued: “There’s something beautiful for a player to be able to silence a crowd with a shot if you’re the foreign player and I’m sure Andy and James experienced that in San Diego with us last year, and we’d like to experience it here an there’s something magnificent about that and there’s obviously something incredible when you get the crowd behind you and you’re playing at home. It’s a very different feeling for sure but there’s beauty in both sides.”

 

While US No. 2 Sam Querrey is out with an injury, and more pressing matters as the star of Millionaire Matchmaker in the US, the American No. 1 John Isner is ready to do battle after the disappointment of pulling out injured from his home tie last year.

 

Isner said: “I wasn’t able to compete which was tough to swallow and for me, I’ve played more road matches than home matches so its tough to miss a home match. The venue was beautiful, the crowd was great. It was tough to sit back and watch, but I’m here, I’m healthy and I’m ready to go and ready to help our country this time.”

 

Donald Young is the US No. 2 on this occasion and despite a little tendonitis, he is ready to build on his Davis Cup debut last year. Courier had nothing but praise for his second pick, stating that while Isner and the Bryan brothers were certainties, it was down to either Young or Steve Johnson, who has been speeding up the rankings, in the running.

 

Courier explained: “The second spot was in play this past month in February, and Donald really performed well, semis of Memphis, finals in Delray Beach and Sam suffered a back injury which really took him out of the running, so it came down to Donald and Steve and Donald outperformed and earned the spot.”

 

The draws for the tie will take place on Thursday, and the first singles rubbers will be played on Friday with the often decisive doubles rubber on Saturday and the reverse singles on Sunday. Things could come down to a fifth rubber and the British hero of the hour last year in San Diego, James Ward is ready.

 

Ward said: “Obviously it gave me a lot of confidence to push on for the rest of the year and the probably the biggest moment of my career winning that away from home in such a big tie. As Andy said it’s a completely different tie, Querrey’s not here. Playing John is going to be a different match altogether on a different surface so we’ll see what happens on Friday.”

 

He continued: “I’m looking to play well on Friday and get the win there so it doesn’t come down to it.”

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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