USA will go into April’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal looking to glean any advantage they can over Serbia, who will more than likely feature world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
But one thing they know they can count on is home advantage. Not only will the Americans have the support of a partisan crowd in Idaho, but captain Jim Courier explained why his team have opted to play in the lesser-known town of Boise. It’s all about the altitude.
“When we were looking at this tie, we sat down, Jay Berger, who is the coach of the Davis Cup team beside me, we all sat down with the players and looked at what we thought could give us the best possible advantage playing against a really difficult team in Serbia,” said Courier.
“Primarily our team is an aggressive team. We like to serve well. The players that we've had playing singles and doubles for our team all are big servers, tend to be tall players in general.
“Altitude, if you're not familiar with what it does to a tennis ball, the ball travels through the air a lot faster. The ball will move through the court, bounce higher, get onto the players quicker. It's typically pretty good for an offensive player.”
And despite the fact that Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic has ruled himself out due to ongoing injury concerns, the Americans are happy to paint themselves as the underdogs ahead of their quarterfinal, which starts on April 5.
With no nominations having formally been made by either side it is impossible to say who is the favourite, but Courier hinted at the fact that his team would be unchanged from the one that overcame Brazil 3-2 in Jacksonville.
If that’s the case, and if Serbia’s skipper Bogdan Obradovic names the same side that defeated Belgium 3-2 in the first round, then it will be an extremely close encounter.
Djokovic, who ousted Sam Querrey 60 76(6) in Indian Wells on Wednesday night, will be favourite to win both of his singles rubbers but both the American singles players will go into their matches against Viktor Troicki full of confidence given their higher ranking.
Which means the doubles could be crucial and even though the Bryan brothers lost to Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the opening round they would be the one doubles duo that any side in the world would want on their team.
Reflecting on the likely opposition, Courier commented: “They're one of the best squads out there clearly. When you have the No. 1 player in the world, that's a nice place to start.
“But they're thick, even without Janko Tipsarevic, who has ruled himself out from what I've gathered. When you have Troicki, a former top 20 player, you have Nenad Zimonjic playing doubles, you have five difficult matches in front of you.
“That's what we expect to see. Not too dissimilar from when we played in Switzerland going up against Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, having five tough matches there. We know it can be done. We know it's going to be difficult with Novak. He's setting the standard right now.
“But Davis Cup is Davis Cup, and hopefully our guys will be able to step up. They'll certainly be underdogs on paper and be ready to let it fly.”
Talking about his own players, the US skipper is hopeful that John Isner will turn his season round by picking up some momentum with a good run in Miami and he was full of praise for Querrey, who will next week be named American No. 1 for the first time.
Querrey will be the only man from the USA ranked inside the top 20 after Isner made an early exit in Indian Wells.
“Sam had a pretty significant win in Jacksonville in the fifth match under a lot of pressure, playing against a player substantially lower in the rankings than him. He had a lot to lose and came up good in the end, which I think will carry him in good stead for moments like that going forward.
“Sam has a big game, big serve, big forehand. He moves pretty well. I think it will be an exciting time for Sam. Being the No. 1 American is a great achievement. He should feel very proud of that. Hopefully that can propel him to greater things.”
There are still tickets available to watch the quarterfinal tie at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise. Book here.