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By Richard Pagliaro

© Tony Chang/Chang Photography

(October 27, 2010) The Rock will form the foundation for the United States Davis Cup team. As expected, the USTA has named Jim Courier, who earned the nickname "The Rock" partly because of his Davis Cup prowess under pressure, to succeed Patrick McEnroe as the U.S. Davis Cup captain.

The USTA will formally introduce Courier as captain at a noon press conference in Manhattan.

Former World No. 1 Courier was selected from a notable group of candidates, including Brad Gilbert, former US Open finalist Todd Martin, MaliVai Washington, Michael Chang and Larry Stefanki.

Courier's serve-forehand based game is somewhat similar to Sam Querrey and John Isner, who are expected to serve as the cornerstones of the American squad in the coming years. Courier is friendly Mardy Fish, who accounted for all three points in the United States' World Group Playoff victory over host Colombia on the red clay of Bogota last month.

It was a heroic effort from Fish, who played 14 sets of tennis over a 72-hour period, including two five-set singles wins, to account for all three points for the USA. Fish was the first American man to account for all three points in a Davis Cup victory since Pete Sampras in the 1995 Davis Cup final in Moscow.

The USA will open the 2011 season with a new captain and yet another red clay road ahead. The Americans will take on host Chile in the March 4-6th first round that will likely be staged on red clay.

The United States owns a 4-0 record against Chile in the international team competition, including a 3-2 victory in the most recent tie between the nations in the 2006 Davis Cup quarterfinals on the grass of Mission Hills.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Courier delivered some of his most memorable and passionate performances in Davis Cup play. A capable closer, Courier posted a 5-1 record in clinching Davis Cup matches, including an American-best 3-0 mark in decisive fifth singles matches. Courier played on the 1992 and 1995 US Davis Cup championship squads. The 40-year-old Courier compiled a 17-10 record in Davis Cup play and the United States was 13-1 in the 14 Davis Cup ties Courier played.



The two-time Australian Open and two-time French Open champion is the second former World No. 1 Hall of Famer to take over as Davis Cup captain in as many weeks following Patrick Rafter, who signed on as Australian Davis Cup captain last week.

"Jim will continue to bring class and character to the role of U.S. Davis Cup captain along with an outstanding pedigree in Davis Cup competition," USTA Chairman and President Lucy Garvin said in a statement.

Among the questions Courier faces in taking over a team in transition are:

1. Isner and Querrey have emerged as the foundation for the team, but based on Fish's efforts in almost single-handedly leading the Americans back to the World Group, will he be back as a singles starter in March?

3. Twins Mike and Bob Bryan were not selected for the trip to Bogota, marking the first time in 20 ties one or both of the Bryan brothers were not a part of the team. Will they be back in 2011 or will the new captain prefer the flexibility a core trio of Fish, Querrey and Isner provide?

4. Will Courier try to recruit Andy Roddick, who sat out the complete Davis Cup season for the first time this year, for a return?

5. What is the immediate Davis Cup future for 18-year-old Ryan Harrison, who was selected to the team that traveled to Bogota, and is there a future role for Donald Young, once the USTA's most highly-hyped junior who is trying to get back to the top 100.



 

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