The USA put up a poor show at the Davis Cup Finals this year, resulting in them finishing last in Group E, below Italy and Colombia.
Defending his team's defeat, captain Mardy Fish hinted at the possibility of being away from their respective families during the holiday season affecting their game.
Fish said, "A lot of people sacrificed a lot to come over here with Team USA & the USTA. Thanksgivings are valuable at home for me personally & I know John [Isner] has 3 kids now. A lot of us sacrificed a lot of stuff being in this great competition. Certainly hurts to not come out with a win..."
In their first tie against Italy, Reilly Opelka and John Isner were swept aside in straight sets by youngsters Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego in their respective singles matches. However, the doubles duo of Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock were able to hold their nerve in a first-set tie-breaker, defeating Italy 7-6(5), 6-2 -- resulting in a 1-2 scoreline at the end of the tie.
They were still in contention for a quarterfinals spot as Colombia also suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of the Italians. Both teams needed a perfect 3-0 score in their tie for a chance at a quarterfinals berth.
But it was not meant to be for the USA or Colombia as their tie ended 2-1 in favor of Colombia. Reilly Opelka and Jack Sock retired from the decisive doubles match while trailing 3-0 in the opening set against the Colombian pair of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, due to Sock's upper right leg injury.
Runners-up Sweden from Group B and Serbia from Group F had better winning margins, resulting in a quarterfinals place for both.
Speaking about their unexpected loss to Colombia, Fish compared the passion of the Colombian players to theirs and said it was something he hoped his players would also display.
"You can see the passion for Davis Cup, playing for their country,” Fish said of Colombia. “It’s infectious for them ... These guys are giving fist pumps every other point. It’s impressive, and it’s something that I hope, as a captain, to strive for and get our players to do."
"I thought Frances Tiafoe did an amazing job": Mardy Fish
Although Mardy Fish was evidently disappointed with his team's performance, he was all praises for debutant Frances Tiafoe, who replaced Taylor Fritz in this year's Davis Cup.
Fish elaborated on Tiafoe's contribution to the team and how he came out on top in pressure situations to ensure he does not let his team's ship sink.
“I thought Frances did an amazing job of (playing with passion) today,” Fish said. “It’s not an individual tournament. This isn’t just about how you’re playing on one specific day. It’s about just trying to get through and competing for your teammates and the support staff that’s here."
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In his match against Nicolas Mejia, Tiafoe won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7), after saving two match points in the decisive tiebreaker to give the Americans an early lead.