QUERREY TO LEAD U.S.
ON DAVIS CUP DAY 1 IN SERBIA
Pat Mitsch | February 1, 2018
NIS, Serbia – World No. 12 Sam Querrey will lead the U.S. Davis Cup team into relatively unfamiliar territory against an unfamiliar opponent on Friday, having been drawn first against world No. 88 Laslo Djere to kick-start the United States’ World Group first-round tie against Serbia on indoor red clay in Nis.
Though Querrey is an eight-year Davis Cup veteran and played in both of the Americans’ ties against Serbia, including in the 2010 first round in Belgrade, he has never played Djere, and no member of the U.S. team has ever played in Nis, a city of 186,000 located 150 miles southeast of the Serbian capital.
Things get a little more familiar in Friday’s second singles match, pitting No. 18 John Isner vs. No. 84 Dusan Lajovic, the top-ranked Serb in the tie. The American No. 2 and Serbian No. ADVERTISEMENT 1 have played four times, with Isner holding a 3-1 advantage, though seven of their 11 sets played went to a tiebreak.
“I’ve seen him play, he’s a talented player,” Querrey (pictured above right) said of Djere. “They’re playing on a surface that they like. We’ll go over the matchup tonight and come up with a game plan.
“As far as playing here, I’ve played in Belgrade. I’ve played Davis Cup in Belgrade, and I’ve played the tournament in Belgrade, so I’ve experienced what those fans are like. About the Nis fans, I’m presuming that’s pretty comparable. Davis Cup, the crowds are always a little rowdier and exciting, and so all of us will be ready for that.”
Saturday’s play will see Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson face the Serbian doubles team of Nicola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic, who are each making their Davis Cup debuts.
Then on Sunday, each nation’s top player will face their opposite number. If the match is tied, each country’s No. 2 player will take to the court to determine which team advances to the Davis Cup quarterfinals in April and which team will head into the playoffs, where they’ll fight for the right to remain in the World Group for 2019.
The order of play was determined at Thursday’s draw ceremony, held at the Sportski Centar Cair.
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.
The U.S. is playing Serbia in Davis Cup for the third time in eight years, this time on an indoor red clay court. 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, a trend the U.S. team is keen to reverse this weekend.
“We’re 0-2, and we’re here to try to at least get one on the board for the U.S., so we’re looking forward to the competition,” U.S. Captain Jim Courier said. “We have a great team assembled here, and the guys have had a good week of practice, so we’re ready to go, and we’re looking forward to playing Serbia tomorrow.”
Added Isner: “Maybe on paper, because of the rankings, we might be favored, but these guys are at home. They’re playing on a surface that they chose, so we expect a very, very tough tie, and I think we all believe that they expect a tough tie, as well. We know we have our hands full.
“All of their players are very capable players. We’ve played a lot of these guys before, and especially on clay. For me, in particular, going up against Dusan, I’ve played him a few times, two very, very close matches. Really not much separates us. So this team is very good, in my opinion, but I also think we’re a good team, as well.”