AP Photo/Keystone/Peter Schneider via Daylife.com
Oh gosh, I’ve fallen behind. No Men in Tracksuits, no preview post. Sorry guys. Davis Cup just came upon me like a whirlwind, leaving me a bit unprepared. Roger Federer obviously felt the same way today in Fribourg, at least when faced with John Isner’s serve. Perhaps he was a bit mentally exhausted from watching his compatriot, Stanislas Wawrinka, go down in five see-saw sets vs. Mardy Fish. The fifth set of that match, alone, took 95 minutes, with Stan fighting off a match point. Excuses can be made, but in the end this match was on clay, in Switzerland, and Roger was riding a 15-match winning streak in Davis Cup singles matches (going back to a loss to Hewitt in September 2003). It’s Roger Federer, not John Isner, who was the tall order.
John Isner won the match in four sets: 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2.
This win recalls the five-set loss Isner took vs. Rafael Nadal in the first round of last year’s French Open. It again proves and promotes the fact that John Isner can play at the highest level against the best players in the biggest moments. It spurs him forward. This Davis Cup tie could work for Isner the same way the 2010 Davis Cup final worked for a slumping Novak Djkovic, or the 2008 Spanish victory (sin Nadal) in Argentina inspired an underachieving Fernando Verdasco (at least for a season or two.)
Just listen to John describe it:
“It’s one of the greatest wins of my life, no that’s wrong, it’s the greatest win of my life.” (via DavisCup.com)
Pretty impressive statement, considering Isner won a certain Wimbledon match 70-68 in the fifth. This is why Davis Cup is still relevant to tennis. It matters. And it sticks.
Poor Roger. As he’s pointed out before – he loses a match and the other guy gets to call it the best day of his life. At least in the case of this tie, he still has a chance to change the ending. Federer explains after his loss (via DavisCup.com)
“I was just trying to play a good match. I did, I thought. I didn’t play a poor match, considering the altitude and the court. We played at a very high level, John and myself. It’s a tough loss because we’re down 2-0. But we’re not down and out. . .(Stan and I) will pick each other up like we did at the Olympics and hopefully play a good match on Saturday.”
Roger and Stan will face one half of the greatest doubles team in history on Saturday. Bob Bryan is on paternity leave, so brother Mike will be pairing up with a young and firey Ryan Harrison. If Roger and Stan get the win, Roger will have to go up against Mardy on Sunday to keep Swiss hopes alive. Bottom line: This is a great first round tie!
In other first round World Group Action, The Spanish “O” squad (no Nadal, no Ferrer, but a noble Ferrero and feisty Almagro) pulled a USA over Kazakhstan to go up 2-0. Jurgen Melzer’s Austria is up 2-0 vs. a Russian team in which Youzhny and Davydenko are slotted only to play doubles (I predict a patented Tarpischev switcheroo come Sunday, if it comes to that.) Milos Raonic is currently trying to even things up for Team Canada as they play France in Vancouver. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s Tsonga vs. Raonic rubber. The Czech nasty boys, Berdych and Stepanek, are rolling over the Italians; a Nole-less Serbia is making quick work of Sweden; things are split between Japan and Croatia (pretty cool to see Japan in World Group); and Argentina – yep, with Old Dog Nalbandian – is up 2-0 vs. Germany. Tommy Haas is playing doubles for the old country.