A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
The Davis Cup Comes Home
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan have entered tennis history. With the United States victory in the recent Davis Cup final, these men are joined other stars such as Peter Sampras and Andre Agassi with their team victory.
When Roddick’s service game is on, he is virtually unstoppable.With his 140 mph serves pounding his opponents, game after game, often it is his opponent who blinks. His opening match against Dimtry Tursunov saw Roddick at his best.
From the opening game, Roddick’s serve dominated the pace of the game. Never in the three set victory was Roddick’s service game ever broken. In the opening set, Roddick had early opportunities to break Tursunov but it wasn’t until fifth game did Roddick finally break Tursunov’s service game and with his serve dominating, Roddick took the first set 6 games to 4.
The second set was similar to the first set. Roddick’s service game proved decisive as the young Russian had no answers for the 140 mph bullet aimed his direction. After losing one service game, Tursunov’s fate was sealed as he dropped the second set 6-4.
Roddick dispatched Tursunov in quick order in the third set. He broke Tursunov twice and breezed home. The United States had their first victory.
Roddick’s game is power, Blake’s game is speed. Mikhail Youzhny proved a tough match for Blake. Both players were even in skills. While the Roddick’s match was one-sided, the Youzhny-Blake was an even match. Both men matched each other with long volleys and spectacular shots.
Unlike the Roddick match, where Roddick’s serve often killed rallies before they began; Blake and Youzhny don’t have the big guns but they have the mobility to sustain rallies.
This was the key match up.With two even players on the same court, there was no clear cut favorite. If the Russian lost this match, not only would they be down two matches but they would still face the Bryan brothers, the best doubles team in the world and they still had Roddick for one more match.
Blake spent much of 2004 and 2005, recovering from injuries that nearly derailed his career. He rose as high as number 4 in 2006 and finished the year as the 13th best player in the world after spending much of the year drifting in the top ten.
Throughout the match, Blake broke Youzhny four times and Youzhny broke Blake three times and the second, third and fourth match ended in tie breakers. One example of their exchange occurred in the final set. Youzhny lifted a high shot over Blake’s head and Blake chased it down before sending a bullet to the corner.
Youzhny shot a fore hand back across the court and charged the net. Blake blasted a counter shot right past Youzhny outstretched hand and just stayed within the white lines.
The dramatic moment came in the final tiebreaker. Blake broke Youzhny in the ninth game to take a 5 to 4 lead. Just needed to serve out his last game and the United States took a two match to zero lead. Youzhny came back in the tenth game as Blake serves proved inaccurate and Youzhny tied the set.
Blake, who had won only one five set, looked vulnerable. Both men held their last service game and the set went to a third straight tiebreaker. Blake mustered up several great shots to take the final tiebreak 7-3.
The Bryan brothers now had the opportunity to capture United States their first Davis cup in twelve years. The Russian team of Nickolay Davydenko, the number fourth player in the world, and Igor Andreev faced the Bryans.
On paper, Davydenko and Andreev had the advantages but doubles is not about skills but teamwork. The Bryans as a team stand 12 feet-7 inches and they work as one individual. Throughout the match, they often had the answer for any Davydenko-Andreev volleys.
After winning a close first set, the Bryans started the second set by breaking the Russians. From that point, they took advantage of any mistakes the Russians made. By the third set, a sense of inevitability took hold as the Bryans took command of the match.
The set was mere walk in the park as the Bryans broke the Russians twice and when it was over, the Davis Cup belonged to the United States.
The third day was anti-climax as Bob Bryan lost to Igor Andreev and Blake took two of three sets from Tursunov to end the competition. Blake and Roddick played some of their best tennis on the opening day and that set the pace for the rest of the matches.
For the past several years, Blake and Roddick pursued the Davis Cup championship and they began their quest as young teenagers but now they are at the peak of their career and followed in the footsteps of 31 previous Davis Cup champions.