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01 February 2013

Isner and Querrey give USA perfect start



  • Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneJohn Isner (USA)

JACKSONVILLE, FL, USA:  Americans Sam Querrey and John Isner seemed to stand as tall as the palm trees lining the St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida. The duo, playing in their first Davis Cup home tie, used their height and power to put on a top serving performance on the opening day of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round action against Brazil.

The 20th-ranked Querrey started off the competition with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over 36th-ranked Thomaz Bellucci to put USA ahead 1-0. The 16th-ranked Isner followed with a confident 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 over 141st-ranked Thiago Alves to close out the USA’s day with a 2-0 lead at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

In what came across as a serving clinic, Querrey never offered the 36th-ranked Bellucci, a southpaw, a break point opportunity during the one hour, 30 minute match. In all, Querrey, who rarely looks so flawless and poised on a tennis court, could, seemingly, do no wrong. He posted an unbelievable first serve stat in winning 45 of his 47 first serves that went into play.

Querrey only lost 12 points in 15 service games during the match. He served six games at love.

“I feel like I played great,” Querrey said. “I was serving well, and that just makes things so much easier. I could play a little freer on his service games. I was a little nervous at the beginning. Once I got that first break, I felt like I got my feet settled and I was on a roll.”

In contrast to Querrey, Bellucci struggled with his own serve, offering Querrey six overall opportunities to break serve. Querrey took advantage of three of those offerings -- one in each set -- which was all he needed to secure the win.

“It was not easy to play today,” Bellucci said. “The court was very fast. He was serving very strong, very close to the lines. I didn’t play my best tennis, so I’m a little bit disappointed.”

Presumably, Bellucci anticipated that Querrey could rely on his serve to be an effective weapon and his 15 aces on the day sent that message. In the first set, Querrey capably put 17 of 24 first serves into play and won all 17 of those points in the 22-minutes.
In the second set, Querrey was 17 of 23 in first serves played and won 16 of 17 points off of those first serves that went in.

In the third set, you can almost say that Querrey faltered a bit in that he only was able to get 13 of 25 first serves into play. However, he won 12 of those 13 points when his first serve was on the mark.

As for Isner, he put up 32 aces and 17 service winners during the one hour 57 minute outing which was 28 more aces than Alves had in the match. But Isner, who hasn’t played in four weeks as he sat out and rested a bruised bone in his right knee, was clearly not in his best form. In particular, his forehand, normally his money shot along with the serve, let him down.
“I didn’t expect much today, honestly, to come out and just be lights out,” Isner said. “I knew I was going to have to rely on my serve a lot. But I was certainly choppy out there at times. I littered up the stat sheet for sure.”

Unlike Bellucci, Alves did not prove to be as easy a mark. He particularly tested Isner in the second set, having a set point on Isner's serve at ad-out in the 10th game, but the American saved himself with an ace, and he held a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker before surrendering the set. 

And Alves had previous experience facing a big serving player.

“I’m happy the way I play,” Alves said. “I gave all I have on the court. It’s tough to play against John, He’s one of the best players in this kind of surface....The other tie I played Davis Cup was against Croatia, and I played (Ivo) Karlovic. They just call me when they have these (big server) problems.”

The USA is playing on home soil for the first time since the 2011 semifinal tie against Spain was held in Austin, TX., a tie which the Americans lost.

Next on the weekend agenda is the doubles rubber on Saturday where the Bryans, noted as the best duo to ever play the game, face off against Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. If the USA wins the doubles point they will have an insurmountable 3-0 lead and move on to the Davis Cup quarterfinals in April. If the Brazilians win -- they’ve beaten the Bryans on two of three previous matches played -- one of the singles matches on Sunday will determine the winner.

“I wouldn’t get ahead of the doubles match,” Courier said. “Those guys, they’re a very good team from Brazil.”

Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live

John Isner (USA) - 1/2/13

Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 1/2/13

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) - 01/02/2013

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    Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, USA

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    Sandra Harwitt

    Sandra, an American sportswriter for longer than she's willing to admit, has travelled the world to cover tennis for major publications, such as, The Miami Herald and Associated Press. Her biggest problem of late is managing to pack worldwide purchases into suitcases and still meet the airline weight restrictions.





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