Isner, Querrey win
to give U.S. command over Belgium
Arthur Kapetanakis | April 6, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – John Isner and Sam Querrey sent the Nashville fans home happy as the Davis Cup returned to the Music City for the first time in 40 years.
In front of a rocking crowd at Belmont University's Curb Event Center, the big-serving Americans notched a pair of singles wins in the face of a spirited Belgian challenge to put their team up 2-0 in the World Group quarterfinal tie.
"The crowd was crucial," said Isner. "They were very loud from the very first point."
The U.S. is now one win away from a place in the semifinals, where they would face Croatia or Kazakhstan.
Playing the role of favorites against the 2015 and 2017 Davis Cup finalists, the Americans were prepared for a dogfight against the undermanned Belgians, and that is exactly what they got.
Isner put the U.S. on the board with a 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 result over world No. ADVERTISEMENT 319 Joris De Loore, and Querrey put his squad in command with a 6-1, 7-6, 7-5 win against Ruben Bemelmans, the Belgian No. 1, who is ranked No. 110 on the ATP World Tour.
The evening started off routinely, as Isner took the first set in a crisp 29 minutes. But De Loore found his game soon after, and zeroed in on the world No. 9's serve late in set two to win a 7-4 tiebreak.
The Belgian put a scare into the Nashville crowd by breaking to take a lead in set three, before Isner recovered to force another tiebreak.
"He started playing very well, making it tough on me," said Isner, who fired 43 aces in the match. "But I knew that was a possibility."
"The rankings do not really matter in an event like this where you are playing for your country."
Both players would save multiple set points in that third-set tiebreak, before De Loore netted a backhand, ending it, 10-8.
Armed with a two-sets-to-one lead, the American won a 10-point game on his opponent's second service game of set four to secure the decisive break. On his sixth match point, a backhand winner clinched the victory for Team USA.
That set the stage for Querrey, the world No. 14, to cement the U.S. advantage.
In what started as a carbon copy of Isner's match, Querrey won a speedy first set, hitting five aces and breaking twice to secure the early lead.
"I was fortunate to get a break right out of the chute," said Querrey. "That freed me up. I felt like I hit my backhand great, felt like I competed really well."
But like his teammate De Loore before him, Bemelmans raised his game in set two and forced a tiebreak. Only this time, it was the American who won the breaker, 7-5, to take control.
With Bemelmans serving at 3-4 in the third, Querrey created two break points in a 12-point game, but could not make the breakthrough.
The American was then forced to save a break point on his own racquet, before holding serve with back-to-back aces.
Just when a second tiebreak looked imminent, Querrey found an opening on the Bemelmans serve at 6-5. He converted on his first match point, when the Belgian sailed a forehand long, to register a 2-0 U.S. advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinal.
On Satuday, partners Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison will have a chance to clinch the tie against doubles specialists Sander Gille and Joran Vliegan. If Friday's action is any indication, the Belgians will not bow out without a fight.
"Winning the match tomorrow was always going to be a focus, no matter where we were on the scoreboard," said U.S. captain Jim Courier. "It becomes a real opportunity for them to really put a stamp on the weekend for us."
"But we also know the job isn't done."
Play will begin at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET), and continue with singles at 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, April 8.
Tennis Channel is presenting live daily coverage of thde World Group quarterfinal.