By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Viktor Troicki and John Isner play the opening rubber.
© Ron Angle
Novak Djokovic and Sam Querrey play the second singles rubber.
© Ron Angle
Bob and Mike Bryan will play Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles rubber.
© Ron Angle
– United States rookie John Isner won’t waste any time waiting to make his Davis Cup debut, drawing Viktor Troicki of Serbia in Friday’s opening match of the 2010 World Group First Round.
“I think I’ll be able to handle the pressure. I’ve played big matches before,” said Isner. “This is obviously a really big match, but once I go out there and get my feet wet a little bit, I’ll be fine, and treat it like any other match. I’m confident in my abilities.”
Originally scheduled to be held at Belgrade City Hall, the official draw ceremony was moved to the clay court in the center of Belgrade Arena.
Following the series opener, U.S. No. 2 singles player Sam Querrey takes on the world’s second-ranked player, Novak Djokovic. Djokovic is a career 12-6 in Davis Cup competition including a 6-2 record on home soil.
“We know that they have a great team,” said McEnroe, entering his tenth year under the helm of Team U.S.A. with a record of 16-8, including the 2007 championship.
“They have a lot of options on their team. We just try to worry about our own team, and play the best tennis that we can play. We had a great week of practice.”
The top-ranked doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, meet a nemesis throughout their career, Nenad Zimonjic, who will partner with the energetic Janko Tipsarevic.
“It’s going to be one of our toughest matches in Davis Cup,” said Bob Bryan. “We’ll use our twin telepathy.”
In Sunday’s reverse singles, the No. 1 singles players, Isner and Djokovic, square off followed by the series finale pitting Querrey and Troicki.
This series marks the first time since 2001 where neither singles player for the U.S. has a live Davis Cup singles victory on his resume.
Teammates Andy Roddick and James Blake, half of the Davis Cup-winning 2007 squad, announced in January that they were taking a year off from the international competition, opening the door for new blood on the roster.
McEnroe selected a pair of tall Americans enjoying break-out seasons, 21st-ranked Isner (6’9”) and 22nd-ranked Querrey (6’6”), to assume the singles roles.
While Isner has never suited up in Davis Cup competition, Querrey gained valuable experience in the 2008 semifinal competing against Spain on red clay in Madrid, taking a set off then-No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
“I’m not sure what the crowd is going to be like tomorrow, but I’m thinking that it’s going to be hostile,” said Querrey. “But it was nice to have that experience in Spain so it’ll help me be ready for what to expect.”
The veteran presence of the Bryan Brothers, No. 1 in the all-time U.S. Davis Cup doubles record book with a sterling record of 16-2, should help ease the burden of the singles neophytes.
“It’s fun to have the young guys, you can see that they’re really excited,” said Mike Bryan.
“The team chemistry is great, we’re having a lot of fun together. John and Sam are loose, fun-loving guys so I don’t think they’re going to get nervous,” he added. “They’ve played tons of big matches in the past, and I’ve never seen them get tight. We’re the experienced ones but we’re going to try to lead by example.”
A rarity amidst their dominance on tour, the brothers own a below-.500 record (14-16) against Zimonjic, who usually partners during the season with another doubles standout, Daniel Nestor. ORDER OF PLAY
R1 – John Isner (USA) vs. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
R2 – Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
R3 – Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Janko Tipsarevic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)
R4 – John Isner (USA) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
R5 – Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
*Team captains may substitute the doubles team up to one hour before the match.
The United States and Serbia have never faced each other in Davis Cup competition.
The best-of-five series will be televised live on Tennis Channel with coverage on all three days of competition, March 5-7.
Friday’s singles match will be aired at 10 am ET. Saturday’s doubles begins at 8 am ET, and reverse singles on Sunday is scheduled to start at 9 am ET. Tennis Channel will air daily encores at 7 pm ET.
The winner of the series between the United States and Serbia will play either Croatia or Ecuadar in the 2010 World Group Quarterfinals, July 9-11.