Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For God & Country: The Davis Cup - USA v. Colombia 2010

Photo: Fernando Vergara, AP

In tennis, playing for God and Country means The Davis Cup, which carries a very special history of pride and passion.

I had the unique opportunity to watch live the Davis Cup tie (match series) between USA and Colombia while traveling through Colombia in September 2010. The tie was a Play-off for entry into the World Group next year.

Team USA was represented by Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Captain Patrick McEnroe. Several top American players chose not to play this year's Davis Cup, among them Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan Brother Twins.

Team Colombia offered their best player Santiago Giraldo, ranked No. 61 in the world, and other stars such as Alejandro Falla, who took Roger Federer to 5 sets at Wimbledon in July, and doubles players Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca.

Team Colombia had the home court advantage, and proved to be a determined opponent electrified by a wildly-supportive crowd. Team USA had the advantage of experience and history, having won the Davis Cup a record 32 times, the most ever for any team.

The event was staged on the red clay at the Plaza de Toros La Santamaria in Bogota, Colombia. The city of Bogota sits at an altitude of 2650 meters or 8700 feet above sea level. Thus, the locale posed a special challenge for both sides, especially the Americans. The tie was scheduled for best of 5 matches called "rubbers", and it proved to be a thrilling and closely-contested battle.

The Davis Cup format is 2 singles matches, a doubles match, then 2 so-called "reverse" singles matches. Each match was best of 5 sets. The winner of 3 of 5 matches would move on to the World Group.

The USA won over Colombia 3-1. (September 17 - 19, 2010)

First Singles rubber: Mardy Fish (USA) defeated Alejandro Falla (Colombia) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
Second Singles rubber: Santiago Girlado (Colombia) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.
Doubles rubber: Mardy Fish/John Isner (USA) defeated Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca (Colombia) 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3.
First Reverse Singles rubber: Mardy Fish (USA) defeated Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6.
Last Reverse Singles rubber canceled due to rain.

Mardy Fish played some of his best tennis to win 3 "rubbers" or matches, the first American "triple" since Pete Sampras accomplished that feat in 1995 playing in Moscow. "To win three points in one Davis Cup match under these circumstances in such an important tie is one of the biggest - if not the biggest - accomplishment of my career," remarked Fish.

Patrick McEnroe, who retired from his 10-year Captaincy of the USA Davis Cup team immediately after the tie series, said of Fish: "What a Herculean effort . . . Mardy's was one of the greatest efforts in Davis Cup history - forget my 10 years as captain. To win three points under these conditions - with the altitude, the crowd and everything. He is in illustrious company."

My takeaways:
*Tennis is big in Latin America and Colombia. The enthusiasm and support of the wildly-cheering and banner-waving crowds was impressive.

*The Americans arrived in Bogota a week early to practice and acclimate to the high altitude, the highest ever for any Davis Cup tie - and they responded admirably. And they were said to enjoy their off-court time in Colombia as well!

*The Davis Cup is a premier forum for showcasing national patriotism and pride of tennis fans in countries around the world.

Well done to all the players and coaches on both teams!

For more on the Davis Cup, visit:
The Davis Cup

Best, Gary

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