Roddick, Blake, Bryan brothers to play for U.S. vs. France

3/27/2008 - Tennis

The announcement of the U.S. Davis Cup team used to be filled with drama. Would Pete Sampras suit up? Could Jimmy Connors be coaxed into playing? Would frustrated John McEnroe call out the other stars who refused to sign on?

No more. Captain Patrick McEnroe on Thursday reeled off the same four names for a record 10th straight time. Andy Roddick and James Blake will play singles and Bob and Mike Bryan doubles in next month's quarterfinal with France in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The U.S. has had the same Davis Cup roster since Andre Agassi played for the final time in March 2005. Roddick, Blake and the Bryan twins led the U.S. to its first Davis Cup title in 12 years in 2007. The foursome beat Austria 4-1 in the first round of this year's competition in February.

"I think I'm pretty lucky," McEnroe said Thursday by phone from Baltimore, where he was testing a quick, indoor hard-court surface for the April 11-13 matches.

France has yet to announce its team. The U.S. and France have split 14 meetings. France won the last time they met, in the 2002 semifinals in Paris. The winner will face Germany or Spain in the semifinals.

Davis Cup is a passion for Roddick, No. 6 in the ATP rankings. He's won his last seven singles matches and is 27-9 overall in Davis Cup singles.

Roddick will make his 21st Davis Cup appearance, nine shy of John McEnroe's American record. Agassi played in 22 Davis Cup events, Sampras 16 and Connors seven.

"You want players that want to be there, that want to be part of the process, that you don't feel as a captain like you have to twist their arm to be there," Patrick McEnroe said.

McEnroe is sticking with Blake as the No. 2 singles player ahead of the hot Mardy Fish, who beat No. 1 Roger Federer on Saturday. Fish will practice with the U.S. team and would be available if there's an injury.

Blake is ranked ninth in the world and has won three straight Davis Cup matches and six of seven.

"The rankings don't lie and the rankings still say that James Blake is in the top 10," McEnroe said. "Clearly we have a great 1-2 punch. If Mardy comes in and has a great week of practice, anything is possible. But I'm certainly not expecting anyone other than James and Andy will be playing singles."

The Bryans are the top-ranked doubles team and have given the U.S. almost an automatic point in the best-of-five event. They're 14-1 since 2003.

The U.S. will be tested against the French. The matchup could produce four singles players in the top 12 of the ATP rankings.

No. 8 Richard Gasquet and No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Australian Open runner-up, won singles matches in France's 5-0 rout of Romania in the first round. Paul-Henri Mathieu, ranked 16th, is another possibility for French captain Guy Forget. Arnaud Clement is 11th and Michael Llodra 12th in the doubles rankings.

Gasquet beat Roddick at Wimbledon last year, and Clement and Llodra beat the Bryans in the Wimbledon final.

"I think they're all dangerous. It's a great matchup," McEnroe said. "Each match, individually, could be a Grand Slam semifinal."