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Americans face Austria in first round

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- The U.S. Davis Cup team has every
reason to be encouraged this weekend against Austria: Since 1900,
the Americans are 27-0 in first-round matches that start at home.

U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick will anchor captain Patrick
McEnroe's squad, which also features the top doubles team of twins
Mike and Bob Bryan.

The United States has won a record 31 Davis Cup titles but none
since 1995.

"We're going to be very tough to beat no matter who we play,"
McEnroe said. "At home, we're certainly a big favorite, but we
still know what we have to do. To win the whole thing, you've got
to be able to win on the road at times."

The winner advances to the quarterfinals in April against the
winner of Sweden-Australia. The Aussies are defending champions.

Last year, the Americans were knocked out in the first round at
Croatia and needed to beat Slovakia in September to avoid
relegation to the second tier. The Austrians are looking for their
first Davis Cup title.

Roddick, ranked third, welcomes the switch from tournament to
Davis Cup play, which opens Friday.

"This is a couple weeks a year where we're not playing
individuals," he said. "We're all good friends, and it's cool
just to be together and work together toward a common goal."

Roddick, who reached the Australian quarterfinals, and Robby
Ginepri were picked Tuesday to play singles, with Mardy Fish as the
backup.

Ginepri earned a chance to play Davis Cup singles for the first
time by reaching the fourth round at Melbourne, his best showing at
a Grand Slam tournament.

"It's always been one of my dreams," Ginepri said.

At 25, the Bryan brothers are the oldest team members.

"In doubles you usually don't play for big crowds," Mike Bryan
said. "You usually never play on TV. So for us, playing doubles in
the Davis Cup is as big as it gets."

Most American and Austrian players were just back from the
Australian Open. The first order of business was getting used the
time difference and the carpet.

"By Friday we'll have no problem with the time change,"
Austrian captain Gunter Bresnik said.

The Austrian players -- all younger than 30 -- are Stefan Koubek,
Jurgen Melzer, Julian Knowle and Alexander Peya.

Koubek, ranked No. 94, has won three singles titles on the ATP
Tour and was a quarterfinalist at the 2002 Australian Open. Melzer,
who advanced to the third round of the Australian Open, is ranked
76th, and Peya is 143th. Knowle is ranked 38th in doubles.

"These are tough guys," McEnroe said. "Guys like this always
play a lot better when they play for their country. We certainly
know that these guys are capable of having big matches."

The rest of the first-round schedule has Russia at Belarus,
Argentina at Morocco, Switzerland at Romania, Croatia at France,
Canada at the Netherlands and Spain at the Czech Republic.