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Patience will be key

SEVILLE, Spain -- Andy Roddick is known for his power. He'll
need patience, too, in the Davis Cup final against Spain.
Playing on red clay in front of an expected record crowd,
Roddick might need to tone down his serves and ground strokes a bit
when the best-of-five series starts Friday, with the United States
looking for its first title since 1995.
"We're not going to be able to just hit through these guys in a
five-set match," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said. "We're going
to have to do some of that, but we're going to have to play
smart."
Roddick, Mardy Fish and the doubles team of twins Mike and Bob
Bryan are underdogs. They probably would be favored anywhere but
Spain -- and on any other surface.
And Spanish captain Jordi Arrese sure likes his team's chances.
Asked how much he'd wager on Spain, Arrese replied: "I would
bet anything on us winning -- except my wife."
Roddick is 12-0 against the members of the Spanish team: former
No. 1s and French Open champions Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos
Ferrero, plus Tommy Robredo and Rafael Nadal. But only one of those
wins came on clay. Fish is 4-1 against the Spaniards.
Playing in their third final in five years, the hosts are
relying on the crowd, the clay and a balanced lineup. Spain has won
the Davis Cup only once, in Barcelona four years ago. The United
States has a record 31 Davis Cup titles, but hadn't reached the
final since 1997.
Spain picked the southern city of Seville for the final because
the sea-level venue should be a drag on the Americans' power,
particularly Roddick's 150 mph serves and go-for-broke forehands.
The temporary clay-court setup can hold 26,600 fans.
"It will be a very humbling experience to play in front of that
many people," said Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open and
finished last season at No. 1. "Having said I need patience, I
will still have to play my game and do what I do well. I have to
stick to my weapons, which is hitting big shots."
The fifth-ranked Moya will play singles, but Ferrero's status is
in doubt after a season that included chickenpox, broken ribs and
wrist problems. He is currently nursing a blister on his right
thumb.
Arrese, one of three Spanish captains, won't announce his lineup
until Thursday's draw. Robredo is ranked No. 13 and is coming off a
strong season. Ferrero is ranked No. 31, and Nadal, 18,
is No. 51.
The Americans "are not going to change their style of play,"
Arrese said. "We have to make them run for a few more balls, make
the rallies longer. One thing is for sure: playing on clay is their
handicap. They don't have great results on clay, and they're not as
good away from home."
The U.S. team is counting on Roddick and the Bryans, who are 4-0
in Davis Cup doubles. A victory for Fish would be a bonus and
probably seal an American victory.
"We've all got pretty good records against the Spaniards and
hopefully we can carry that over," Fish said. "But it's tough to
look a lot at records. You kind of throw everything out in the
Davis Cup."
Spain spent about $1 million to install the clay court inside
its 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium, which hosted the world track and
field championships in 1999. The stadium has a roof, but the sides
will be open, giving it an outdoor feel.
Each day's attendance is expected to break the record for a
"sanctioned" tennis match. The existing mark was set in 1954 in
Sydney, Australia, when 25,578 watched the United States defeat
Australia in the Davis final.
Several exhibition tennis matches have drawn bigger crowds. The
1973 match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the Houston
Astrodome drew 30,472.
"I've only played a couple of times before 23,000 fans, and
that was in the U.S. Open," Ferrero said. "A crowd that size you
really notice. You go out trying to play like always, but with size
of the crowd -- and this time a home crowd -- it can make you
nervous."