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McEnroe Confident in Slumping Blake; Harrison Wins Title

June 29, 2009 07:00 AM
By Rick Vach, USTA Florida

U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe has kept his faith in Florida's James Blake (pictured left) in announcing his standard line-up of Andy Roddick, Blake, and Florida's Bryan brothers in doubles for the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie on clay at Croatia on July 10-12.

Blake is at No. 17 on the ATP Rankings, and will fall further after his first-round exit at Wimbledon is calculated next Monday.

McEnroe's confidence in Blake, who is 1-4 in live Davis Cup matches on clay during his career, has been unwavering, even with up-and-coming American Sam Querrey pushing for a spot on the team after some solid results over the last year.

Querrey had a strong first week at Wimbledon, and last year took a set off Rafael Nadal on clay in Spain in the Davis Cup semifinals when Blake was injured and could not participate. Blake competed at Wimbledon with a heavily-strapped ankle after reaching the finals on grass the previous week at the ATP Queen's Club event. Querrey entered Wimbledon last week at No. 47 on the ATP Rankings.

At 2-0, Croatia is the lone country that holds a winning record versus the U.S. in Davis Cup play.

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"Our guys have once again answered the call and are ready to accept the challenge of representing their country on the road under tough conditions," McEnroe said. "We are bringing our most experienced group to battle against a talented Croatia team and hope that can make the difference."

Croatia will likely utilize No. 13-ranked Marin Cilic and No. 31 Ivo Karlovic. No. 37-ranked Mario Ancic withdrew from Wimbledon with illness and says he will not participate in the tie. Ivan Ljubicic, the hero of both of Croatia's past victories over the U.S., has "retired" from Davis Cup play, but said he would make himself available if Cilic or Karlovic could not play.

Blake and Roddick have been U.S. Davis Cup stalwarts since both debuting simultaneously in 2001, winning a home tie against India.

The U.S. vs. Croatia winner will face either Argentina or the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup semifinals on Sept. 18-20. Should the United States defeat Croatia, the team would play on the road at Argentina or host the Czech Republic. 

The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles, last winning in 2007 over Russia.

Florida's 17-year-old Ryan Harrison, chosen for the team as a practice partner, won his first pro title this past weekend at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Chico, Calif., defeating fellow Bollettieri Academy student Filip Krajinovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4.





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