Croatia officially announced they will host the U.S. Davis Cup team on red clay at the Zatika Sports Hall in Porec when the Davis Cup quarterfinals commence on July 10-12.
The last time the U.S. and Croatia faced off was in the 1st round in Los Angeles in 2005, when Ivan Ljubicic almost single-handedly led the Croats over the U.S. “Dream Team” of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, winning two singles matches and beating the Bryan brothers in doubles with Mario Ancic. The only other time the two countries met, in 2003, Ljubicic also led the way for a Croat win with two singles and a doubles win, with James Blake and Mardy Fish playing singles and doubles for the U.S.
Roddick and Blake in singles, and the Bryans in doubles, will likely be the shoe-in squad for U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe, unless captain Pat Mac goes with the bold move of subbing Sam Querrey for the slumping Blake.
The Croat line-up is a little more complicated as Ljubicic, the hero in the last two ties against the U.S., has shunned Davis Cup since 2007, concentrating on raising his ATP ranking. If Ljubicic were to make himself available for the tie, he is currently ranked behind countrymen Marin Cilic (No. 18), Ivo Karlovic (26), and Ancic (33) in singles.
Ljubicic could very well make himself available in doubles only, as he and Ancic are one of only two teams to ever defeat the Bryans in Davis Cup play.
Blake is 1-4 on clay in live-rubber Davis Cup singles matches during his career.
Red clay has been the Achilles heel of the U.S. squad in the era of captain Patrick McEnroe, with the team compiling a 4-4 win-loss record since 2001. Against the current claycourt powerhouses, the U.S. hasn’t beaten Spain on clay since 1972, when Stan Smith and Harold Solomon led the way in singles at Spain; and the U.S. hasn’t beaten Argentina on clay since 1988 when the “Dream Team” of career No. 1s John McEnroe and Andre Agassi, and Ken Flach and Robert Seguso in doubles, propelled the U.S. to victory in Buenos Aires.
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