DAVIS CUP EXPERIENCE TO PROVE KEY
FOR U.S. IN SERBIA
Ashley Marshall | January 31, 2018
American Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier hopes experience will be the difference when his team battles Serbia for a spot in the quarterfinals this weekend.
The U.S. team of world No. 12 Sam Querrey, No. 18 John Isner, No. 43 Ryan Harrison and No. 50 Steve Johnson have all represented their country before, although this is the first time they’ve been on a U.S. Davis Cup team together.
Querrey (pictured above) has played 11 ties since debuting in 2008, while Isner has been a mainstay on the squad, having played 14 ties, including at least one every year from 2010 to 2017.
Harrison played twice in 2010 and was scheduled to play again in 2012 before rain washed away a dead fifth rubber. Johnson has competed in three ties in 2015 and 2017.
“We have an experienced team with us, with Isner and Querrey and Johnson and Harrison,” said Courier at the captains’ pre-draw press conference ahead of the tie, which will take place Feb.
2-4. “They’ve all played Davis Cup for the U.S. They’re all experienced players. They’re comfortable on clay. They’ve played lots of matches on this surface, as well.
“We feel good about our chances against the Serbian team, but we know it will be difficult. It always is in Davis Cup, no matter who’s on the other side. Everyone fights really hard for their country.”
In total, the American foursome boasts a 28-23 record across 30 ties.
By contrast, Serbian Davis Cup Captain Nenad Zimonjic nominated world No. 84 Dusan Lajovic, No. 88 Laslo Djere, No. 183 Nikola Milojevic, No. 230 Pedja Krstin and No. 302 Miljan Zekic to his team.
Of the quintet, only Lajovic, who has a combined 8-6 record entering his seventh year on the team, has played more than one Davis Cup match. Djere lost the lone singles match he played in his debut against France in the quarterfinals last year, while Milojevic, Krstin and Zekic are on the team for the very first time.
“We obviously know the captain, Nenad, very well, from his time on the tour,” Courier said. “And we know Dusan and Laslo very well, because they’re Top 100 players. We know less about the other three players, but we’re gathering information on them.
“We’ve had a lot of experience playing against players ranked outside of the Top 100 who have had success against us, so we respect all of the players. We know they’re capable and ready to come compete against our team.”
While top-ranked American man Jack Sock was not named to Courier’s team, the Serbian team is also without its three highest-ranked players – 12-time Grand Slam men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic, world No. 36 Filip Krajinovic and former world No. 12 Viktor Troicki.
“It will be an extremely difficult task for Lajovic and Djere, but I think that our greatest opportunity is to get matches in singles,” Serbian Captain Zimonjic said Wednesday. “They have Ryan Harrison, who last year won the French Open [in doubles]. They also have Steve Johnson, who won a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. They are favorites in doubles.
“We will give a chance to players who have never been on a [Davis Cup] team. This is a great opportunity for them, and I can only wish such a great debut for the national team."
The U.S. is playing Serbia in Davis Cup for the third time in eight years, this time on an indoor red clay court at the Sportski Centar Cair in Nis, Serbia.
In their two previous ties – the 2010 first round and the 2013 quarterfinals – the Serbs won both meetings on the strength of two singles victories from Djokovic.
The winner of the tie will advance to the World Group quarterfinals, April 6-8, against the winner of Belgium vs. Hungary. The losing nation will compete in a playoff, held Sept. 14-16, for the right to stay in the World Group for 2019.