Sampras, Roddick in Davis Cup
January 29, 2002
Pete Sampras is back on the U.S. Davis Cup team, a year after saying he doubted he¡¦d ever play in the event again.
Pete was picked Tuesday for the American team that will play a first-round match next week against Slovakia. He is joined by Andy Roddick, Todd Martin, Mardy Fish and James Blake.
Team captain Patrick McEnroe said he didn¡¦t have to do any arm-twisting to get Sampras, who will be playing in his 15th Davis Cup series but his first since April 2000.
"I actually had a lot of discussions with Pete last year and I felt he wanted to play Davis Cup at different points last year,¡¨ McEnroe said in a conference call. ¡§But because he sort of made that announcement in January 2001 ¡X Pete Sampras is a man of his word, and I think he felt maybe he shouldn¡¦t play even though maybe he was wavering.¡¨
In talks early this year, McEnroe said he told Sampras that Davis Cup can be a benefit to his game at this stage in his career.
"He needs these types of matches now to keep himself motivated,¡¨ McEnroe said. ¡§He wants to gear up for the majors. Not only am I happy to have him on the team because of his play, but also because of his stature and who he is. I think him being around the younger players will be energizing to him and I think it¡¦ll be inspiring to them.¡¨
Sampras, 30, has won a record 13 Grand Slam singles titles. In his last Davis Cup play, he helped the United States beat the Czech Republic 3-2 in a second-round match in Inglewood, Calif. He is 14-7 in Davis Cup singles and 4-1 in doubles.
Only four players may be on the team. McEnroe will have to settle on those four by Feb. 7, the day before the three-day event begins.
Sampras and Roddick are expected to play singles, with the doubles team likely coming from among the other three players. McEnroe said final decisions would be made after practice next week.
The 19-year-old Roddick played in two Davis Cup series last year. He won both his singles matches against India in a preliminary round in October, and won his singles match in February when the United States lost to Switzerland 3-2 in the first round.
Roddick injured an ankle at the Australian Open but McEnroe said the ankle is fine.
Blake won both his matches against India at No. 2 singles. Martin, 31, has been in 16 Davis Cup series and has played every year since 1994, although he has lost seven straight matches in Cup play. Fish, 20, is making his first Davis Cup appearance.
McEnroe said he felt it best to use more singles players as opposed to choosing a doubles team.
Slovakia will be represented by Dominik Hrbaty, Karol Kucera, Jan Kroslak and Karol Beck. Slovakia, captained by Miloslav Mecir, has reached the quarterfinals in Davis Cup play two times in the past three years.
The best-of-five series begins Feb. 8 at the Myriad Convention Center, with two singles matches that day, a doubles match Feb. 9 and two more singles Feb. 10.
The U.S.-Slovakia winner will play the Spain-Morocco winner in early April.