The United States Davis Cup Tennis Team will be gunning for its 32nd championship when it hosts defending champion Russia in a best-of-five final series starting Friday in Portland, Oregon. As VOA's Steve Schy reports, it will be the first time the United States has hosted the final since 1992 in Fort Worth, Texas, when current world number six Andy Roddick watched from the stands as a 10-year-old.
Excitement is high leading into the 61st Davis Cup final, with all of the available tickets at the 12,000 seat Memorial Coliseum selling out in just 30 minutes. Andy Roddick will not be in the stands this time, as he leads a United States team trying to avenge last year's semifinal loss to Russia. He will be joined by 13th-ranked fellow-singles player James Blake and the top-ranked doubles pair of Bob and Mike Bryan.
Last year's semifinals were played on clay courts in Moscow, but this year the matches will be contested in Portland's Memorial Coliseum on a fast indoor hard-court surface. James Blake says that should favor the host Americans.
"Definitely, I think that is going to play into our hands, which is the reason we have the home court advantage," he said. "So we can make it perfect for our games. And I think for Andy and myself, it is a great situation. We love playing on 'indoor hard' and we have had some of our best results there."
Roddick has never won a Davis Cup title and he should be especially motivated after falling to Russia's Dmitry Tursunov, 17-15 last year in the fifth set of the decisive reverse-singles match.
Tursunov will be back on a Russian squad led by fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko. Rounding out Russia's announced roster will be Mikhail Youzhny and Igor Andreev.
Though the United States has won a record 31 Davis Cup titles, the most recent was back in 1995, when Pete Sampras led the team to victory over Russia on clay in Moscow. The Bryan brothers say other countries have caught up with the United States.
"I think it is lucky to have it in the U.S., playing on our home soil," he noted. "You know, we have had a little bit of a drought here, but every other country in the world has stepped up and it's more even now, so we are feeling good to be in the finals. A fast, slick court and we are going to be serving big, so it's going to be fun. Everyone is really eager to win this one."
Both Davis Cup teams include the same players from the semifinals, when the United States advanced by downing Sweden, 4-1 and Russia edged Germany, 3-2.