Thursday, October 04, 2007

Davis Cup: Part duh!

Mark those calendars: Nov. 30-Dec.2.
The American and Russian teams played their way into
the Davis Cup final to set up an appealing match-up
that likely will include three of the top 10 players
in the world. So don't forget. Nov. 30.
And how could you forget? It's only two months away.
How's that for a momentum killer?
Seriously, this Davis Cup format is ridiculous. It's
like being at the Summer Olympics and completing the
qualifying round for hurdles, and finishing it off in
September. The tennis powers-that-be will probably
take their sweet time in even considering a different
format for the Cup.
It's unfortunate, too, because there are a lot of
interesting story lines in play for this final.
Russia, which just snagged the Fed Cup last weekend,
has a legitimate shot at bringing home the men's
equivalent. Both teams have the same captain, Shamil
Tarpishchev. Both of his teams will have to win on
American soil to take home the Cup. (His Fed Cup trip
to Vermont was a bit bumpy, since he had a little
trouble getting a visa for reasons that remain
unknown.) He's won either competition for the last
five years, but never both in the same year. Another
interesting development will involve Marat Safin,
Russia's former number one. Now, he's ranked 27 in the
world, and guess where he was last weekend during the
Germany match? That's right, contemplating the
sixth-highest mountain in the world instead of an
on-court opponent.
Really. Mountain climbing.
Safin is nursing a wrist injury, though, and even
though he's nowhere near the top of his game these
days, he is key to the Davis Cup team. He's 9-2 in the
world competition, which could come in handy against
the Americans because his teammate Nikolay Davydenko
is 0-10 against James Blake and Andy Roddick.
The American team will almost definitely include
Roddick and Blake at singles and the top-ranked Bryan
brothers in doubles. They also will have the
home-court advantage, which plays a major role. The
last couple times the Americans met defeat in Davis
Cup, it was on clay. Let's just say that this time, it
won't be. For players like Roddick, with his monster
serve, the faster the surface, the better.
The U.S. team will also be bidding for its own spot in
history. Although America has won the Davis Cup more
than any other country, it hasn't brought home the cup
since 1995, when it defeated Russia. Captain Patrick
McEnroe has never won the title, and neither has any
member of his team. Together, they all have been in
the shadows of American Davis Cup heroes, like
McEnroe's brother, John, Andre Agassi and Pete
Sampras. They'll be in a good position to join the
Whenever they get around to playing. Honestly, what's
next? Starting the World Series in October and
finishing during All-Star weekend in April?

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