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|October 10, 2001||
U.S. hoping fans will help against India
The U.S. Davis Cup team find themselves in a must-win situation in a qualifying match against India this weekend, but the timing of the event couldn't be better for the Americans.
The patriotic fervour sweeping the nation the past few weeks has made representing the country very popular. The U.S. players and coaches and even the usually docile American tennis fans should be more excited than ever to cheer for the red, white and blue.
"I think the crowd will be there for us," said U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe. "We have to put it in perspective that it's just a tennis match, but it's our way of standing up for the values we have in this country.
"I think under the circumstances there will be even more pride than ever in wearing the USA on our jackets and playing for our country."
The match against India was originally scheduled for the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum from September 21-23 but was put back because of the attacks in New York and Washington.
McEnroe is expecting good things from his young team and hopes to erase the bad memories from their 3-2 first-round loss by Switzerland in February.
The Americans need to beat India this weekend to remain in the 16-team World Group. Defeat will mean they will be reduced to playing in zonal competition next year.
Since the qualifying round began in 1981, the U.S. have only had to play three times and possess a 2-1 win-loss record. The Americans' only defeat came at the hands of West Germany in 1987 and relegated the team to zonal competition the following year.
Florida teenager Andy Roddick, who has had a spectacular season, will lead the U.S. challenge.
He has won three ATP singles titles at Atlanta, Houston and Washington and reached the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open before falling in five sets to eventual champion Lleyton Hewitt.
Roddick will be joined in the team by veteran Todd Martin and the Wimbledon doubles champions Don Johnson and Jared Palmer.
The Indian team are led by veteran Leander Paes, who will join up with partner Mahesh Bhupathi in the doubles.
In 1999 the pair won the French Open and Wimbledon doubles titles and reached the finals of the Australian and U.S. Opens to become the first pair to make all four Grand Slam finals in the same year since Frank Sedgeman and Bob Hewitt in 1952.
McEnroe said: "We don't want to go into Saturday's doubles at 1-1 with India because that's a pressure situation we don't need."
History is certainly on the Americans' side -- they are unbeaten in the six previous meetings between the two countries.
The last time they met was in the first round in 1994 when the Americans swept to a 5-0 victory on grass in New Delhi.
The hard-serving U.S. team should also be comfortable on the quick indoor courts. It will be the 39th time that the Americans have played indoors and they have a 28-10 record on that surface, including a 17-3 record on home soil.
Competing for the love of their country hasn't always been the strong suit of American Davis Cup players in the past, but it won't be hard for the U.S. captain to motivate his team this time.
"I think for all the guys the emotional aspect will definitely be there," McEnroe said.
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