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US Faces India in Davis Cup Opener Friday - 2001-10-11

The United States Davis Cup Tennis team faces India in a best of five relegation match that gets under way Friday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The match was originally scheduled to begin September 21, but was delayed because of the terrorist attacks on the United States. The Americans must win to secure a berth in the 16-nation World Group that will compete for the 2002 Davis Cup Championship.

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe has to choose between the youthful speed and enthusiasm of James Blake and the wisdom and experience of veteran player Todd Martin to fill his second singles spot behind Andy Roddick. The decision is crucial, because a loss to India would send the United States back into zonal competition for only the second time ever.

McEnroe named Roddick, Martin, and doubles players Don Johnson and Jared Palmer to the U.S. roster October 3. But McEnroe has the option of substituting for two of the players up to one hour before Thursday's draw ceremony. James Blake has been playing well in practice, and McEnroe could select him over Martin to play second singles.

"It really comes down to who I think has the best chance to win," he said. "I mean, there are certainly a lot of factors. Todd has the experience, James does not have experience playing Davis Cup. James has youth, Todd does not. So, you know, we have to balance all those things out."

Martin has struggled this season and has lost his past seven Davis Cup singles matches. Blake pushed eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt to five sets before losing at the U.S. Open.

Leander Paes is believed to be India's top singles player with Mahesh Bhupathi expected to play the second singles match. Bhupathi and Paes are also one of the world's best doubles teams.