Sport : Tennis

Courier ready for 'ultimate task'

13th September 2012, 03:12pm

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Jim Courier: Set for tough contest

Jim Courier: Set for tough contest

Captain Jim Courier believes the United States face "the ultimate task in current Davis Cup tennis" when they take on Spain on clay in Gijon this weekend.

Arguably it might have been tougher though. At least they will not encounter French Open champion Rafael Nadal, still on the injured list.

But in David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, Spain possess a pair of clay-court specialists, and in Sam Querrey and John Isner the United States realistically do not.

Yet the US have produced heroics on clay in Davis Cup play already this year, seeing off Switzerland in February when Isner recorded a stunning four-set win over Roger Federer, and following that up with a win in France in April.

That carried them through to the clash with the reigning Davis Cup champions which begins on Friday at the Parque Hermanos Castro venue.

"We have had the toughest draw you can have in Davis Cup with the road matches we have faced, and this one is the ultimate ask in current Davis Cup tennis," Courier said, during the recent US Open.

"Going into Spain, playing them on red clay, they haven't lost in a long, long time.

"We certainly feel like we're going to have a chance, but we also feel like we're not the favourites. We felt that way in the first two matches this year, too."

For a team supposedly in transition, the US are holding up strongly.

Andy Roddick retired at the US Open and has not been involved in Davis Cup this year, while Mardy Fish's health problems have set him back.

Fish and Ryan Harrison have had roles to play this year but neither is involved this week, with Isner and Querrey, who is recovering his best form after an injury-ruined 2011, on duty.

Querrey faces Ferrer on Friday, and Isner takes on Almagro.

Courier says Isner, the 6ft 9in man mountain with a fearsome serve, has been "incredible" for his team this year, and his four wins from four matches bear that out.

Saturday's doubles rubber will be contested by Mike and Bob Bryan for the United States, and Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez for Spain, before the reverse singles on Sunday.

In Buenos Aires, and also on clay, last year's runners-up Argentina will tackle the Czech Republic and will be able to call on former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

The 23-year-old has been carrying a wrist injury and will defy doctor's advice to play Radek Stepanek in Friday's opening singles rubber.

Juan Monaco will then meet Tomas Berdych in the second match.

Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank are due to face Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol in Saturday's doubles rubber but changes can be made and Berdych and Stepanek have often teamed up in such contests in the past.

Berdych knows it will be a major challenge for the Czechs at the Parque Roca.

He said: "We are playing an extremely tough opponent. We play in Argentina, which makes the tie even harder, tougher.

"We're playing on clay, which most of us don't like, but that's how it is.

"So we will try to deal with that, try to prepare for it."

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