U.S. 'tired' of early Davis Cup exits, says Courier
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - United States captain Jim Courier is "tired" of losing in the first round of the Davis Cup but says he feels no extra pressure ahead of a tough away encounter against a resurgent Australia.
The United States have been bundled out of the opening round by Britain at the last two tournaments and a third successive loss in Melbourne would be another bitter pill to swallow for the once-dominant tennis nation.
The visitors have pinned their hopes on Jack Sock and John Isner at least breaking even in the singles against young guns Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios, with the Bryan brothers a better bet to win the doubles against John Peers and Sam Groth.
"I’m tired of losing in the first round. The whole team is tired of that," Courier told reporters at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club on Monday.
"But we know in coming here if we’re playing anything less than our best we’ll be out of this thing in the first round again.
"I don’t feel any more or less pressure. I certainly have expectations on how I want our team to perform but I’m also someone who’s been through these battles enough to know that you can do the best you can and leave it on the court."
With a temporary grass court installed on the former Australian Open venue's centre court, the tie has a fittingly nostalgic feel for two former tennis powers battling to return to the top of the game.
The United States hold a record 32 Davis Cup titles to second-placed Australia's 28, but the hosts, captained by recently retired Lleyton Hewitt, are buoyant after reaching the semi-finals last year.
Boasting two of the game's top young talents in world number 20 Tomic and 27th-ranked Kyrgios, Australia can see a brighter future after years in the Davis Cup wilderness, and rowdy crowds can be expected throughout the March 4-6 tie at Kooyong.
Both Tomic and Kyrgios bring injury concerns into the tie but Hewitt expects both to be fit enough to play.
Sock and Isner arrived early in Melbourne to tune up on grass and get accustomed to conditions, while their opponents are yet to assemble for practice.
But Courier felt Tomic, runner-up in Acapulco on Sunday, and Kyrgios, who retired hurt with a back injury during his semi-final against Stan Wawrinka in Dubai, would come into the tie with confidence regardless of their buildup.
"I couldn’t say whether we have the advantage one way or another because confidence is pretty critical in these things," said Courier, a Davis Cup winner as a player in 1992 and 1995.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)