USA-Great Britain Renew Davis Cup Rivalry in Glasgow, Joe Craven Previews
Joe Craven for Tennis Atlantic
Hello, my name is Joe Craven and over the next few days I’ll be providing Tennis Atlantic with on-site credentialed coverage from The Davis Cup World Group tie between Great Britain and The USA. Tennis Atlantic is one of the select few USA based media outlets to have a credentialed journalist in Glasgow for the tie.
The tie will take place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on indoor hard court, and it will be the 20th meeting between the two founding nations of The Davis Cup with USA currently leading the head to head 11-8. The two teams last faced in the 1st round of the World Group last year. That tie took place on clay in San Diego, with Great Britain winning the meeting 3 rubbers to 1. The last time Great Britain beat USA on home soil was back in 1935, so that should give USA some confidence as they look to quickly avenge last years loss.
Team GB, captained by Leon Smith, consists of Andy Murray, James Ward, Jamie Murray and Dominic Ingot, with Liam Broady and Kyle Edmund as the next generation hitting partners. Team USA, captained by Jim Courier, consists of John Isner, Donald Young, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, with junior sensations Francis Tiafoe and Stefan Kozlov as hitting partners.
The draw for the tie took place today and the order of play is as follows:
Day 1 – Andy Murray vs Donald Young followed by John Isner vs James Ward
Day 2 – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan vs Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot
Day 3 – Andy Murray vs John Isner followed by Donald Young vs James Ward
Play will begin at 1pm GMT each day.
Day 1 Preview and picks
A. Murray vs. Young
Murray heads into this match with 7-0 win/loss in Davis Cup singles matches on Hard Court, his overall Davis Cup singles record is 19-2. Young has only played a Davis Cup match once, losing to Murray last year in straight sets on the clay in San Diego. Given Murray sets high standards for himself the Scot has had a less than ideal start to his season. Murray did make the final of The Australian Open where he lost to Novak Djokovic in 4 sets, but after this he’s suffered losses to Gilles Simon in Rotterdam and Borna Coric in Dubai.
Donald Young on the other hand has certainly had a good start to the season by his standards, the American reached the Quarter Finals in Auckland, the Semi Finals in Memphis and the Final of Delray Beach. Young’s 10-5 start to the season is the best start he’s had since turning pro and to put things into perspective it took him until June last year to notch 10 wins, whilst he’s already managed that amount of wins this year by February. Murray leads the head to head between the two 3-1 and as mentioned the two last faced in the tie between the two nations last year, with Murray winning that encounter in 3 sets.
After last years meeting between the two, Young will go into this tie looking to prove a point and given his recent form I think he will play Murray a lot closer than he did last year. Murray will also be looking to make of for his recent disappointments in Rotterdam and Dubai and is bound to step up his game in front of his home crowd. I think that this match has the potential to be the match of the tie and with both men having a point to prove we’re in for an amazing match. On paper Murray is the clear favourite, he has more a lot more Davis Cup experience than Donald Young and has had a far superior career to the American.
However, Young does hold a win over Murray and his fantastic form so far this season should give him a lot of confidence going into this match. Young’s serve has probably been the weakest part of his game so far this year, and with Murray being one of the best returners on tour.
Young will need to serve a lot better than he has in the past few months if he wants to have any chance of winning this match. Murray stated in the post-draw press conference that he wants to ‘try and play the same style of match’ as he did vs Young last year in San Diego and plans to employ the ‘same tactics’.
Murray needs to be the aggressor in this match because if he shows up with a passive style of play it will allow Donald Young to execute his game style well and trouble the Scot. I expect Murray will win the match but it will be a lot closer than many people think and the Emirates Arena will be in for a great match to start proceedings.
Prediction: Murray in 5 sets.
Ward vs. Isner
Both Ward and Isner have some fantastic results in the Davis Cup and you could argue some of these results were the best of each players respective careers. Isner has notched Davis Cup wins over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Roger Federer all on clay, whilst James Ward came back from 2 sets to 1 down to beat Sam Querrey when Great Britain and USA met least year in San Diego.
Isner had to miss the tie between the two sides last year due to an injury and said in the pre-draw press conference that “it was tough to swallow”, he will certainly have added motivation to lead his team to victory this year and finally find some good form after a slow start to his 2015. Ward has also had a slow start to 2015, with a less than ideal 1-3 win/loss record. In the pre-draw press conference the Brit mentioned that his win vs Querrey last year was the “biggest moment” in his career and a win vs Isner on Friday would arguably be even bigger. The two have only met an official event once and that was at a Challenger in Savannah on clay, with Isner winning that match 7-6 (4) 7-5.
They also met at an exhibition event in Kooyong this year with Ward winning that match 3-6 7-6 6-2, although though it has to be noted that exhibition matches don’t really have any bearing on what the outcome of a Davis Cup meeting will be.
Isner is the strong favourite for this match, given neither man has shown good form this season you’d always back the superior ranked player to get the win. Ward hasn’t really had any recent results to suggest that he can pull off the upset here and the slow indoor hard court should suit Isner’s game, as it allows him to run around the backhand and hit forehands which is undoubtedly his biggest weapon outside of his serve. Of course with a partisan crowd behind him you cannot write of Ward completely and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he takes a set from Isner, but ultimately I expect the American to ease to victory.
Prediction: Isner in 4 sets.
Day Two Preview and picks.
Doubles Rubber (J. Murray/Inglot vs. Bryan/Bryan tentatively)
Whilst Leon Smith has named Jamie Murray and Dom Ingot as the doubles pairing to face The Bryan Brothers, many people expect, or rather want, to see The Murray Brothers vs The Bryan Brothers. If the two sets of brothers did face it would certainly be a fantastic spectacle in front of a packed Glasgow crowd and it would be the first time doubles pairings consisting of brothers have faced off at World Group level and the 6th brothers vs brothers match at any level of the competition.
The last meeting between two sets of brothers at any Davis Cup level happened way back in 2007 when Victor Estrella and Henry Estrella of The Dominican Republic defeated Marcelo Arevalo and Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador. Jamie and Andy have only played together once in a Davis Cup match, in which they beat Laurent Bram and Mike Vermeer of Luxembourg in a Europe/Africa Group 2 tie, however the two brothers do have experience of playing together every so often on tour and they’ve captured ATP 500 titles in both Valencia and Tokyo in the past.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are the most successful doubles pairing of all time and have respective Davis Cup doubles records of 27-6 and 24-5. In the post draw press conference Andy Murray said that he’s “unlikely to play doubles” and whilst this might be a bluff by the British team as a whole leaving Andy’s inclusion in the doubles until the last minute, one has to assume that it will be Jamie and Dom that face The Bryan Brothers. Jamie and Dom have never played doubles together before and this, as well as the fact they are scheduled to face the best doubles team of all time, is probably one of the biggest obstacles they face heading into the match. Both Jamie and Dom have earned wins over The Bryans’ in the past with Dom notching two recent wins against the pair alongside main tour partner Florin Mergea at The Australian Open and again in Dubai. Jamie’s win against the pair came in 2013 at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston where he partnered with John Peers.
If the scheduled match up does happen, the Bryan Brother’s should have no issues in winning the match. The pair are used to this stage with over 60 Davis Cup doubles matches combined, they know what they’ll have to do to get the job done. The only chance Jamie and Dom will have of winning is if they have instant chemistry as a pair, whilst some first time doubles pairings do it’s never an easy task, especially in important matches like this. The British duo will need to feed off the crowd if they’re to have any chance of winning on Saturday, that is of course the selections remain as they are.
Prediction: The Bryan Brothers in 3 sets.
Day Three Preview and picks.
With my predictions so far I have The USA leading 2-1 going into the final day of the tie. These things are always tough to predict but I always like to be bold with my predictions because it’s no fun otherwise. Day 3 will certainly be an exciting one and will be a fitting end to what I think will be a fantastic tie.
Reverse Singles #1 (A. Murray vs. Isner tentatively)
Murray and Isner have met 3 times in the past and Murray has been victorious on all three occasions, with his last win over the giant American coming in a tight three setter in Cincinnati last year. Murray usually relishes these sort of match ups against big servers who don’t posses much of a ground game and I expect his best tennis of the weekend to come against Isner.
With Murray being one of the best returners in the game he’ll most likely have a lot of look ins on the Isner serve, especially given the current poor form that Isner is in. Murray should be able to bully Isner around the the court and punish him wherever possible, dictating the rallies from the get go. Of course, given Isner’s past Davis Cup heroics you can’t write him off completely but I’d be extremely surprised if he manages to do anything special here.
Prediction: Andy Murray in 3 sets.
Murray beating Isner on the Sunday would set things up nicely for a crucial 5th rubber, and what’s Davis Cup without a crucial 5th rubber?! The stage would be set for either James Ward to become Davis Cup heroes and give their nation the win.
Rubber 5 (Ward vs. Young tentatively)
If this match does take place, what a way it would be to end the weekend, both players are big underachievers in their careers, and whoever gets the win here would take massive confidence from it. In the post-draw press conference Young said that “he’s feeling a lot more confident than he was last year” and I think he goes into this potential match up as the slight favourite. Young still has some lapses in concentration and if this happens in a crucial 5th rubber it could be curtains for the American, especially against Ward who has relished being in front of home crowd before.
The two have faced just once before, with Young managing a straight sets win on the grass of Eastbourne in 2014. I don’t think that match will have much bearing on what happens on Sunday if the two do meet because Ward generally steps up his game for Davis Cup and Young is in much better form than he was last year. I think a match between the two will come down to some very fine margins.
Prediction: Donald Young in 4 tight sets.
Final Result: USA d. Great Britain 3-2
So there we have it, I have the USA beating Great Britain 3-2 in the tie which would see them avenge last years loss in San Diego. I think the tie could still go either way and it wouldn’t surprise me if the doubles nominations do change.
I hope you enjoyed my tie preview and I look forward providing Tennis Atlantic with full coverage of the throughout the weekend. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can tweet me at @prodigyrep