Doubles star Bob Bryan succeeds Fish as US Davis Cup captain
By HOWARD FENDRICH
(AP) -- One of many highlights of Bob Bryan’s time as half of a record-breaking men’s doubles duo was helping the United States claim the 2007 Davis Cup - the last time the country won the competition. Now Bryan will try to end that drought from the sideline.
The U.S. Tennis Association on Monday announced Bryan’s appointment as Davis Cup captain, succeeding Mardy Fish. Bryan’s first matches in charge will come during the group stage in September.
Bryan and his twin brother, Mike, earned a record 16 Grand Slam championships together, 119 tour-level titles and an Olympic gold medal in doubles, finishing 10 seasons atop the ATP rankings before retiring in 2020. They went 25-5 as a pair in Davis Cup matches, including a win that clinched the U.S. victory over Russia 16 years ago in Portland.
“That is at the top of the list of my best memories in tennis. All of those times in the Davis Cup trenches with my teammates are seared into my mind. We had highs and we had lows, but they’re definitely unforgettable,” Bob Bryan said in a telephone interview from Miami, where he lives. “We’ll never forget celebrating with our teammates, who we had gone through a lot with: Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mardy Fish. We had a fun night out in Portland. We were drinking out of the cup - whatever Roddick poured in there. He was the bartender for that night.”
Told of Bryan's captaincy on Monday, Roddick said: “Bob knows Davis Cup. He's passionate about Davis Cup. He was one of the people that always said ‘yes’ to Davis Cup. The guys seem to like him a lot. I'm curious how he's going to put his brand, his stamp, on it.”
Bryan, who also will have a role with the USTA’s player development program, takes over the Davis Cup squad during a recent surge by American men on tour. It’s been 20 years since Roddick won the U.S. Open for the last Grand Slam singles trophy by a man from the U.S., but Frances Tiafoe reached the semifinals at Flushing Meadows last September and Tommy Paul made it to the final four at the Australian Open in January.
The week after the Australian Open, those two were among 10 men from the United States ranked in the top 50, the most since June 1995. When Taylor Fritz rose to No. 5 last month, it was the highest ranking for an American man since Roddick in 2009.
“What I’m looking forward to is working with the guys throughout the year. Understanding them better. Getting to know them and their coaches. As a captain, you’ve got to understand that everyone is different and responds differently to different words. With coaching, sometimes it’s better not to say too much,” Bryan said. “I’m definitely going to be a good listener, but I want to bring my enthusiasm, passion and energy to this event and show the guys what an honor it is to represent the U.S. I think these guys are really motivated to win this thing.”
The USTA said in January that Fish would no longer be captain, a post he held since 2019.
Bryan was a Davis Cup coach under Fish and served as an acting captain last year when Fish was sidelined with COVID-19.
The two were fined $10,000 apiece and put on a four-month probation by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) in November for promoting a gambling operator via social media. The ITIA said Bryan and Fish cooperated fully with its investigation and removed the problematic posts immediately.
“I’ve never done any sort of sports gambling and I broke a new ITIA rule. It was a little unclear what impact that would have on my chances to be captain, but now it’s in my rearview,” Bryan said. “I’m happy to have it behind me.”
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Updated March 13, 2023