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By Richard Pagliaro

© Natasha Peterson/Corleve
© Mark Howard/Corleve

(September 6, 2010) Their leaping, rib rattling chest-bumps have become the signature shot of American Davis Cup success, but twins Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan won't be flying high in the rare air of Colombia this month. U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe announced he will resign as captain after this month's tie and has left the Bryan brothers off the team in his farewell tie set for September 17-19th in Bogota.

The 44-year-old captain has selected John Isner, Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish and Ryan Harrison to the team that will take on host Colombia in the Davis Cup World Group Playoff. It is a critical tie for an American squad that must win to return to the World Group.

It marks the first time in 20 ties Bob or Mike Bryan will not play for the USA.

Mike Bryan said the team convened in Washington DC and Cincinnati to discuss the tie and collectively agreed with McEnroe's decision to go with four singles players.

"We kind of all got in a room and just talked about it," Mike Bryan said. "It's a unique situation. Patrick wants to bring down an extra horse because of the altitude and those guys are tough. If a guy goes down (because of the altitude) it might wipe him out...We're a little disappointed. We wanted to play one more match with P-Mac — he did great things —  but this is a unique situation and we understand."


Standing in interview room one after his announcement while his mother, Kay McEnroe, waited patiently for her youngest son to answer a few final questions, McEnroe told Tennis Now the high altitude of Colombia contributed to his decision and claims the Bryan brothers are fine with it.

"Basically, what happened is the conditions, the high altitude in Colombia caused concerns about breathing," McEnroe said. "I felt I need another singles player and Fish is one of the best doubles players in the world."

Asked if the Bryan brothers agree with his decision, McEnroe replied: "They were okay with that and having more singles players gives us more flexibility. John has had some physical issues as well."

In addition to his current tear that makes him one of the hottest singles players in the world, Fish partnered veteran Mark Knowles to win Washington, DC last month and the pair went on to reach the Cincinnati quarterfinals. A fine volleyer, Fish also paired with Querrey to win San Jose in February and Querrey and Isner played doubles together for the first half of the season.

Interestingly, Fish and Knowles will face the top-seeded Bryan brothers in the US Open third round today on the Grandstand Court.

So who will play doubles for the USA later this month?

"Isner and Mardy would be the first thought," McEnroe told Tennis Now. "It takes time to acclimate to the conditions so we'll try to leave Friday or Saturday to give ourselves time to adjust to the conditions.

Certainly, the trio of Fish, Querrey and Isner all have doubles experience and give McEnroe the a few different doubles combination options. American Davis Cup without the Bryan brothers is like seeing Popeye swear off spinach. 

Additionally, the fact that Isner, who lost to Mikhail Youzhny in the US Open third round last night, has been struggling with an ankle injury he sustained in Cincinnati last month. Harrison showed signs of the promise that make him a potential future American star yet other than serving as a practice partner, he has virtually no Davis Cup experience.

It marks the first time since 2003 that when an American squad of James Blake, Taylor Dent, Robby Ginepri and Fish lost to host Croatia, 4-1, than either Mike or Bob Bryan will not be on the team.

Asked if his decision meant the Bryan brothers might be not be consistent members of the team in the future, McEnroe said no.

"This is a one off (decision)," McEnroe told Tennis Now. "This is a decision that is best for this match."

The Bryan brothers' Davis Cup future will be determined by the next captain.

McEnroe said today he does not know who will be named the next captain, but you can bet he'll have input into the selection of his successor.

"I don't know. Do you?" McEnroe said when asked to predict his successor. "I don't think now is the time for that. But I'm going to, No. 1, try to get through this match in Colombia because it's not going to be easy. That's my big priority right now, is to get the guys down there and get ready for that match and keep us in the World Group."

Two former Davis Cup players who may well receive consideration are former World No. 1 Jim Courier and former US Open finalist Todd Martin. Both men have expressed interest in the Davis Cup captaincy in the past, both remain close to the game and both are respected by the current group of players. 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 and Martin coached Mardy Fish, who joins Isner, Querrey and Ryan Harrison on the American squad that will take on Colombia.




 

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