U.S. narrows focus
as Davis Cup draw revealed
Arthur Kapetanakis | April 5, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After a pre-draw concert rocked the stage at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, the tennis stage is now set for this weekend's Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal between the U.S. and Belgium.
John Isner, the hottest act in American tennis, was announced as the Americans' No. 1 singles player, and will open the tie on Friday against Joris De Loore, the Belgian No. 2. In the reverse of that matchup, Sam Querrey, the American No. 2, will face Ruben Bemelmans to close out the opening day of play on the indoor hard courts of Belmont University's Curb Event Center.
Saturday's doubles match will feature Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison for the Americans, as they take on doubles specialists and familiar partners Sander Gille and Johan Vliegan.
If the tie is still undecided, Sunday's finale will begin with Isner taking on Bemelmans in a battle of No. ADVERTISEMENT 1s, followed by Querrey against De Loore.
Coming in as strong favorites on paper, the Americans will look to 6-foot-10 Isner to stake them an early lead.
"It's very, very important, just as every point is," the North Carolina native said of the opening match. "It's a race to three. To get that first point would be very beneficial."
Isner, coming off of his first career Masters 1000 title in Miami, will look to ride that momentum into the weekend.
"I can take a lot from that, certainly," the world No. 9 said. "I was really able to get my game up in fifth gear there."
The doubles match provides an interesting contrast, with the relatively new pairing of Sock and Harrison facing a more seasoned Belgian duo in Gille and De Loore.
"Those guys are going to have great chemistry. They've been playing for a while together," said Harrison, who teamed with Sock to reach the semifinals of the Mexican Open in March.
Sock, ranked No. 16 on the ATP World Tour, currently sits at No. 26 in the doubles ranks, with a career-high doubles ranking of No. 6. The 25-year-old recently won the Indian Wells men's doubles event with Isner, adding to the 2014 Wimbledon title and the 2016 Olympic bronze medal already on his doubles resume.
Having missed the Americans' February victory in Serbia due to injury, Sock is happy to be back with the team.
"All of us probably grew up playing team sports at some point. I think we all thrive in the team atmosphere a little bit," he said. "We don't get that many opportunities to play on a team obviously, with this career. Any time we do, we love the atmosphere and the camaraderie."
As world No. 14 Querrey detailed, the Americans have been enjoying their time in Nashville, highlighted by a trip to watch WWE Smackdown on Tuesday night.
The business starts Friday, though, and with the order of play now set, the Americans can begin to narrow their focus.
On hand for the draw ceremony was USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams, and her Belgian counterpart, Andre Stein. They were joined by Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and the president of host-site Belmont University, Bob Fisher. Tie referee Norbert Peick completed the draw after a brief welcome from Carlos Bravo of the ITF.
On Wednesday, Nashville Mayor David Briley declared Friday "Davis Cup Red, White and Blue Day," as the city gears up for the weekend event. It is the first time the Music City has hosted the Davis Cup since 1978.
Play begins at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET) on Friday, April 6, and Saturday, April 7, and at 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) on Sunday, April 8.
Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage of the World Group quarterfinal.