The U.S.’s 3-0 sweep of a depleted Serbian squad in the first round of the 2018 Davis Cup last weekend left captain Jim Courier and the U.S. team asking, ‘How far could we go this year?’
For the time being, Courier and his squad are solely looking forward to hosting a second-round tie against Belgium on April 6-8, 2018, at a location to be determined.
“We’ve played the last two on the road,” Courier said. “So we’re looking forward to that opportunity to be at home.”
Belgium, which defeated Hungary in the opening round, has Top 10-ranked David Goffin, but no other Belgian players currently in the Top 100. Steve Darcis is ranked No. 104, and Ruben Bemelmans is at No. 121. The U.S. in singles can counter with Jack Sock, Sam Querrey and John Isner, respectively ranked Nos. 8, 12 and 18.
Belgian captain Johan van Herck says between now and April he wants his players to gain confidence by getting some tour wins and match play.
“I think confidence will be very important for us,” Van Herck said. “Going to play [in the U.S.] will be a huge challenge but I think we have proven over the years that we are a country that can play really good Davis Cup tennis.”
Such was last year, when Belgium made a shocking run all the way to the final before France stopped them to raise the Cup.
If the U.S. can defeat Belgium, the September semifinals would likely see a trip to Croatia, which boasts Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic and rising star Borna Coric.
Courier can look forward to likely getting American No. 1 Jack Sock back into the mix after Sock, who months ago qualified for the year-end ATP World Tour Finals for the first time, missed the tie in Serbia.
“Jack found himself in the position where he didn’t get the off-season that he needed and he needed time to train,” Courier said. “He made a decision not to travel with the team, as he wasn’t prepared enough to be ready to do what we needed him to do here. Thankfully we have so many options, and obviously we got what we needed from this great collection of players, but Jack is at home and he’s working hard and diligently to get himself ready to play at the level he played at the end of last year again. So we hope that he’ll become a part of what we’re doing here as we move forward into the next round.”
If the U.S. can get by Belgium it will be the first time into the semifinal round since 2012 when they drew what is considered the Davis Cup death trap, traveling to play on red clay at Spain. That year Spaniards David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro shut out Querrey and Isner in singles, while the Bryan brothers earned the U.S. their lone point of the tie in doubles.
Well-traveled since then, Isner, Querrey and crew will this year attempt to reach a first final for their era of players and bring home the Davis Cup for the first time since 2007. That year Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers swept Russia 3-0, a nation-leading 32nd Cup win for the U.S.
For more info go to www.daviscup.com.