In a city devoid of any major professional sports teams, individuals often take on larger-than-life roles as Austin residents latch onto hometown heroes.
Relatively few international sporting events are held in town, resulting in frustration for fans that want to watch their idols up close.
That changes this summer. Local tennis star Andy Roddick will face the world’s best player, Rafael Nadal, in July here in Austin.
The only remaining question is exactly when.
The U.S. will host Spain in the second round of the Davis Cup July 8-10 in Austin, the United States Tennis Association announced Wednesday. It is the first Davis Cup tie, as the competition is known, in the city’s history.
The individual matchups will not be announced until 10 days before the tie, but Roddick is expected to face Nadal in a singles draw, possibly in a victory-clinching match on July 10.
“It will be a dream come true, and I’m excited for the tennis community of Austin,” Roddick said by telephone from Miami.
The Davis Cup is the sport’s oldest international team competition, dating back to 1899.
The U.S. is the tournament’s best all-time performer, with a record 32 titles and an overall record of 210-64. Spain has won four titles, all since 2000 and most recently in 2009.
Roddick, a Davis Cup regular, is second in U.S. history with 33 victories in the event. He secured the Americans’ first-round victory over Chile with a win on March 7.
Nadal has pledged to play for Spain in the second round and, as the top performer on the world’s top-ranked team, would most likely face Roddick.
“There has been a little bit of a history of some gamesmanship between us and Spain,” said Jack Ryan, senior professional director for USTA. “They might withhold some information until the very last minute.”
Roddick was a large part of the bid process. The USTA also considered San Antonio and Albany, N.Y., as possible sites to host the contest.
“Over the years ... he was very active in getting our attention and talking to us about coming to Austin,” Ryan said about Roddick.
The tie will take place at the Erwin Center. Tickets start at $90 and go on sale April 8 for the general public.
“I think it’s going to be one of those crowds that’s going to get riled up pretty quickly,” Ryan said.