Why the USA’s Davis Cup team is a far cry from the Class of ’92
Back in 1992, arguably the greatest Davis Cup team ever assembled claimed the trophy in some style at the Tarrant County Center in Fort Worth, USA.
It would be the 30th time that the US team had claimed the coveted title, but this was no ordinary group of five players but rather tennis’ equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters.
First up, there was the veteran, John McEnroe, a multiple US Open and Wimbledon champion entering the twilight years of his career.
He was ably supported by a trio of then-emerging superstars.
There was Jim Courier, who came into the final having enjoyed a memorable year, winning the Australian Open and retaining the French Open title he had won the season previous.
Then there was Andre Agassi, a man who needs little introduction to tennis fans, but who at that stage was only starting out on the long road to becoming an icon of the sport.
Wimbledon champion heading into the Davis Cup Final, Agassi would ultimately never win another major at SW19 and that was down, in no small part, to the final member of the quartet.
‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras, a future seven-time Wimbledon Champion who nevertheless carried plenty of presence going into the Davis Cup finale, having won his first major, the US Open, two years previous.
Together they took on a capable Switzerland team that, while taking them all the way on two separate occasions in the showpiece event, would ultimately leave their nation waiting until 2014 to toast a Davis Cup title.
Things started easily enough for the US with Agassi defeating Jakob Hlasek in straight sets in the first rubber.
But Switzerland fought back with Marc Rosset defeating Courier in five closely-fought sets to keep the tie alive.
The pivotal match came next with McEnroe and Sampras combining to deliver a thrilling victory in the standout contest of the final.
Trailing Hlasek and Rosset by 2-0, the US pair rallied to win the remaining three sets, with a close third followed by 6-1 and 6-2 scorelines.
Courier then achieved some modicum of redemption for his earlier loss with a 3-1 victory over Hlasek that sealed the title for the greatest Davis Cup team there ever was.
Fast-forward to 2015 and with Team GB due to face the United States in the competition, Andy Murray and Co. do not need to worry about the prospect of facing the next Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe or Courier this mouth.
Though the Bryan brothers represent the best men’s doubles team in the world today, the current US team is somewhat lacking when it comes to men’s singles stars.
Due to be played in Glasgow, the tie will see Great Britain backed as favourites for victory over an American team they dispatched 3-1 at this very stage of the tournament last year.
With John Isner the visitor’s highest ranked player at 20th in the world, while the women’s game goes from strength-to-strength the US men’s team is a far cry from what it used to be.
Backed up by no.47 ranked Donald Young, no player on the Team USA roster has captured a major singles title and while the Bryan brothers look strong favourites for victory in the doubles, when it comes to the singles there is only one likely winner.
Team GB may be reliant on Murray at present, but with the Scot winning two of the three rubbers required for victory last time around, his presence could make it another day to forget for the Americans.
Still, they will always have 1992.