Courier is not about to put pressure on any particular player but, with a question mark hanging over Fish because of his health, there is no doubt that Isner will have to share a heavy burden with Querrey next year if the US are to make another good run at the Davis Cup (Courier's team won two tough ties in Europe this year, beating Switzerland and France, before falling to Spain in the semifinals). But there is talent waiting the wings. It is just a question of how quickly Harrison and his kid brother; Johnson and Sock can move to center stage. — Richard Evans
Advice to US players
Davis Cup captain Jim Courier wants US players to get their act together. While not overly critical of the way his team and some of the less-experienced players have performed this year, Courier says many are missing the big picture. "Our players need to take a look around the landscape and see what is happening on the tour and see how players from other countries are making better use of their opportunities," says the man who maximized his talents as a player to such an extent that he won back-to-back French Open and Australian Open titles. "Basically they need to train correctly, prepare correctly and, just as important, schedule correctly. It's a long, tough year and you have to make sure you are at your maximum going into the Slams," he said. "I am particularly impressed with Spain. They get it right." On the next pane, Courier remarks on the post-Andy Roddick era.
What happens now?
In between organizing his PowerShares Series, which kicks off Oct. 13 in Surprise, Ariz., with Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and himself as headliners, Courier has been hitting balls in New York with former Wimbledon semifinalist Mario Ancic, who is now a law student at Columbia University. "Mario was telling me how, when he was growing up in Croatia, everyone looked to US players as to how to do it," he said. "Now that is no longer the case. Everyone looks to Spain, France and other European countries for a template." Pointing to 2012 as a year of transition for US tennis with the retirement of talisman Andy Roddick, Courier offered a snapshot report on the players he will be watching as he looks forward to the 2013 Davis Cup campaign, which begins with a home tie vs. Brazil in February. Click through to see his evaluations. — Richard Evans
"Mardy is obviously struggling with his health but it was great to see him play so well when he was able to. He still has a lot to offer."
"It was a positive year for John with some great Davis Cup performances on clay in Europe for our team. He learned a lot, too, and realizes there is a lot of room for improvement. Overall professionalism, especially with scheduling, is a top priority because he needs to be rested better for the big tournaments."
"After his injury, Sam had a nice comeback year. I was very happy how he got his ranking moving back up to 22."
"It has been a sort of sideways year for Ryan so far. He has played some high quality tennis but got stymied with some really tough draws in the Slams. At his age, you need a big breakthrough but he just didn't get the luck you need to do that." Twenty-year-old Ryan Harrison lost to Andy Murray in the first round of the Australian Open; Gilles Simon in the first round of the French Open; Novak Djokovic in the second round of Wimbledon and Juan Martin del Potro in the second round of the US Open. He won a set against all of them except Djokovic.
"I haven't seen enough of him yet to form a proper opinion but, technically, he looks really good and is just as competitive as his brother. Getting to the quarters of the US Open doubles with Ryan was an impressive effort for a rookie."
"Brian coming back on to the tour after eight years out and doing so well in Europe was a great story, and I just hope he can build on that now he is fit again."
"It's been a tough year for Donald, but his talent is still intact. He just needs to rebuild his confidence."
"After a standout year for Southern Cal, Steve did well to get his ATP ranking up to 170 so quickly. He's a big guy with a nice serve and a nice forehand and now he just has to concentrate on getting his body developed to handle the pro tour."
"Obviously it was a bit of a throwaway year for Jack after his injury. But he came back strong and, like Steve, made a good impression at the US Open by reaching the third round. No question he has the weaponry."