THE MURRAY CUP? The Davis Cup may be morphing into the Murray Cup. Andy Murray, with a little help from his bro Jamie, could lead Britain to the title. Forget that he’s a Scot who called for independence for his homeland and is the only truly elite player who’s been playing Davis Cup so far this year. He led the UK to two wins over the US in the past two years. And just after Wimbledon, Murray (the only British Davis Cup player ranked under No. 110) scored three wins to lead the UK over France.
The Brits, who are in their first Davis Cup semi since 1981, could win their tenth title. On September 18–20, they host a not-that-dominant Australian team, which scored a stunning win over Kazakhstan. Australia was playing without their highest-ranked player, Bernie Tomic, who was in the midst of a nasty battle with the establishment, and their two young stars, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, both lost on day one. Captain Wally Masur then turned to his savvy but low-ranked vets No. 62 Sam Groth and No. 208 Lleyton Hewitt, who’s 34. Before many dazed Darwinians (i.e. fans in Darwin) Groth and Hewitt gave us another example of the survival of the fittest, as they scored three straight wins to secure the tie.
Whichever team prevails in the Aussie-Brit showdown will be in decent shape in the November 23-25 final. The other Davis Cup semi features Belgium, which has never won the Davis Cup, against Argentina, another country that has never won. Belgium shellacked Canada, which was playing without Milos Raonic, and Argentina beat Serbia without Djokovic. The Belgians are led by David Goffin, No. 14, and No. 64 Steve Darcis, the Nadal-slayer who knows a thing or two about scoring big wins in Britain. Argentina’s three top players have an average ranking of 80. Murray could join Nadal, Andre Agassi and Yevgeny Kafelnikov as the only players with a Davis Cup championship, an Olympic Gold in singles, and a Grand Slam title.
GO FIGURE: Maria Sharapova is considering renting UCLA’s Tennis Center in December for a two-day tennis happening…An ump in DC challenged a call when a linesperson said they were “unsighted” … Nadal‘s win in Hamburg was his first high-tier victory since the 2014 French Open. But 2015 could be the first time in 11 years that Nadal doesn’t win a Slam … Broadcaster John Barrett said that if Arthur Ashe were still alive, he would have run for president … There are three Czech women—Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova and Karolina Pliskova—in the top ten.
• “It has such a kinetic flow.”—Nick Lester, on Serena’s serve.
• “Serena and Venus can never simply be Serena and Venus. They are inevitably spectacle, fodder for abstractions both crude and lyrical. They have inspired not just racist commentary but also celebrated works of poetry”—Kerry Howley
• “I’m personally not giving Bob and Mike Bryan more than ten years [on the tour].”—Ted Robinson
• “He’s a driver’s license type player, not a passport player.”—Jim Courier, on John Isner’s preference to play in America.
• “Steve Johnson may just have earned himself a business-class ticket to Uzbekistan.”—The Tennis Channel, on Johnson’s chances of making Davis Cup team.
• “Success can mask problems.”—Genie Bouchard
• “As soon as something is achieved, it’s already time to set a new goal.”—Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou, after Williams won the French Open.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Stan Wawrinka and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ briefly famous Matthew Dellavedova … Victoria Azarenka and a young Meryl Streep.
A LOT OF LOSERS: Jon Wertheim noted “the last 11 Wimbledons have yielded 11 different losing women’s finalists.”
LOOSE A CROWN, GAIN A CROWN: Sloane Stephens long held the crown as the best WTA player to’ve never won a title. But after failing to win in 84 tournaments, the still young talent won in DC. “She got the monkey off her back,” noted Tracy Austin. “Her smile lit up the whole city,” added Paul Annacone.
DELPO—FIGHTING FOR WHAT HE LOVES: The 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who was once on the brink of becoming a dominant force, says he’s had “some dark days. Not much light at the end of the tunnel … But [what] I want to do is fight for what I love, and that’s to play tennis.”
NAVAL NONSENSE: If Genie Bouchard has Genie’s Army, why can’t Christina McHale have her own McHale’s Navy?
BECKETT BONANZA: Mardy Fish‘s son is named Beckett. Stan Wawrinka has a quote from the Irish writer Samuel Beckett as a tattoo. As a Belgian kid, huge Andre the Giant was driven to school by the Nobel Prize-winning Beckett so he wouldn’t be teased by his mates.
AS THE RADWANSKA TURNS: Two summers ago, Aga Radwanska changed her hair color. Reporters asked if she was now a better player as a blonde than she had been as a brunette. Last summer she posed for ESPN the Magazine’s Body issue, leaving little to the imagination. Her Polish Catholic charity fled. This summer her coach said “it’s our decision to keep [Aga] as the smallest player in the top … because, first of all she is a woman and wants to be a woman.”
TO DO OR NOT TO DO, THAT IS THE QUESTION: During a Toronto rain delay, Alison Riske tweeted, “like do I eat again, do I nap, do I read, do I socialize, do I text, do I put on long pants, do I…. #rainydelayquestions.”
KASTLES’ REIGN: Coached by Murphy Jensen and led by Wimbledon mixed doubles champs Leander Paes and Martina Hingis, the Washington Kastles beat the Austin Aces to claim their fifth straight World Team Tennis championship.
MEDIA NOTES: The US Open media center is being named after Bud Collins … After 13 years, ESPN won’t be broadcasting the French Open in 2016.