US ditches ‘road warrior’ tag after Davis Cup loss

The United States has reached the end of the road in its Davis

Cup run.

The Americans couldn’t overcome Spain’s superiority on clay,

falling when David Ferrer beat John Isner 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

Sunday to secure the defending champions an insurmountable 3-1 lead

in their semifinal.

The U.S. is now quite happy to ditch its road warrior tag

following the loss.

The Americans’ strong 2012 run included away victories over both

Roger Federer-led Switzerland and France on clay. But even those

impressive victories couldn’t propel it past the world’s top

clay-court nation, with Ferrer remaining unbeaten on the surface

for his 16th victory.

Three straight road series took a toll on a U.S. team missing

the retired Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish because of health issues,

but captain Jim Courier expects his young team to remain positive

heading into 2013.

He was also hoping Wednesday’s draw would be a little more

helpful, too.

”There is a lot for this team to be proud of and what we have

achieved this year – the way we have approached it, attacked it and

the draw, the obstacles we have had,” Courier said Sunday. ”We

have been given the most difficult draw that you can have in this

era to play the teams we have on the road. We had some great wins

and we had some competitive losses.”

Wednesday’s draw for next season’s World Group play will

determine the 32-time champions’ first opponent, with the Americans

having about a 50-percent chance of hosting to open.

”We’ll be ready for whatever happens, (but) it would be really

nice to have a home tie, we didn’t have one this year,” Courier

said. ”The schedule is terrible for the players after the

Australian Open.”

Isner had been 4-0 on clay this season, including singles wins

over Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but the 10th-ranked American

couldn’t maintain his strong start on Sunday. Isner was undone by

74 unforced errors and his own frustrations as the match against

the fifth-ranked Ferrer slipped away.

”It is disappointing; the Spanish team in my opinion is just

too good. They won the important points and it is a bit

discouraging for me,” said Isner, who lost in five sets to Nicolas

Almagro on Friday.

The victory over Federer in Fribourg was probably the season’s

highlight.

”You live and you learn,” Isner said after failing to keep the

tie alive following the Bryan brothers’ doubles victory on

Saturday.

Courier’s second season ended the same as his first – with a

loss to Spain, which goes on to play the Czech Republic in

November’s final.

He’s had to juggle his singles lineup around Isner due to Fish’s

absence. Ryan Harrison played against France and Sam Querrey played

Spain, with the pair going 0-3. Still, Courier is certain the

experience of this season will bear fruit.

”We take some solace in (how close we were), but a win is a win

and a loss is a loss. There is some silver lining in what this team

has achieved this season,” Courier said. ”The Spaniards knew how

to win key points in the matches they won.

”They have individual players, great depth and great passion

for Davis Cup. It’s not rocket science, if you have great

ingredients and you have to blend them together and they do a great

job.”

Follow Paul Logothetis at http://twitter.com/PaulLogoAP