Sam Querrey addresses the media after Friday’s win.
By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Serbia won a marathon doubles match Saturday at Taco Bell Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against the U.S.
Former world No. 1 doubles player Nenad Zimonjic and unknown Ilija Bozoljac (No. 338 in the world) beat the world No. 1 doubles team of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6, 7-6, 5-7, 4-6, 15-13. The match lasted well over 4 hours.
The U.S. now needs a win from No. 20 Sam Querrey in the first match Sunday against No. 1 Novak Djokovic to stay alive. If Querrey wins, John Isner will meet Viktor Troicki with the tie on the line.
If Djokovic wins, Isner and Troicki likely will play a best-of-three exhibition match to close the tie.
Serbia won the first set of Saturday’s doubles match 7-6 (7-5). Each team recorded a service break during the set, with the Americans dropping one first. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan matched it immediately and were ahead 4-1 in the tiebreaker. But the Serbs tied it 5-5 and took the lead on a second-serve ace by Nenad Zimonjic. The Serbs won the set on a shot the Bryans let go. It clipped the back of the baseline and the call held up on electronic review.
Serbia won the second set in another tiebreaker. Both teams held serve throughout, but the Serbians dominated the tiebreaker. They won the first six points and won 7-1.
It’s the first time in 24 Davis Cup matches that the Bryans have lost the first two sets. They lost their only previous five-set Davis Cup match in February against Brazil. They are 20-3 overall.
The Bryans bounced back by winning the third set 7-5. They fought off two break points in the third game and broke Ilija Bozoljac at love in the 12th game to win the set. That ended a streak of 29 straight games won by the serving team.
The Bryans did nearly the same thing in the fourth set — breaking Zimonjic in the 10th game to win the set 6-4.
The fifth set was tight throughout. Serbia finally broke through for a 14-13 lead. The Bryans got it to 15-40 in the next game but Zimonjic served two aces to stave off the break points. He added two service winners on deuce points and closed the match with an ace.
According to USTA research, the Bryans never had won a pro match after trailing two sets to none.
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Serbia decided to save its singles players for Sunday and will use No. 338 Ilija Bozoljac in today’s doubles match.
The quarterfinal tie against the U.S. at Taco Bell Arena is tied 1-1.
The Americans expected No. 44 Viktor Troicki to play and No. 1 Novak Djokovic indicated Friday that he might step into the doubles match. Troicki played five sets Friday and was having trouble with his legs late in the match, which might have affected his availability.
The Americans will send world No. 1 doubles team Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan onto the court. They’ll face former world No. 1 doubles player Nenad Zimonjic and Bozoljac at 1 p.m.
On Sunday, it’s Djokovic vs. Sam Querrey at noon and Troicki vs. John Isner in the final match. If the next two matches go as expected, the tie will come down to the last match.
A few quotes from yesterday that didn’t make today’s paper:
Viktor Troicki: “I start pretty slow in the first set and tried to get back in that set; gave everything, a lot focus, and also kept it throughout the second and third set, which I think I did good. Then, yeah, I get a bit tired mentally, and also physically my legs were not 100% and got a bit slower. I could say fourth set I just like wasn’t there. But then fifth set I think we both played pretty good.”
Troicki on receiving treatment on his legs before the fifth set: “Nothing major. Just felt a little bit tightness in my calves. Just wanted to refresh my legs. Nothing major. I still felt good and felt I was okay physically in the fifth set. It was just maybe focus went down a little bit. Physically I felt okay.”
Jim Courier on the two singles matches: “The first match I thought both players came out a little bit tight, a little bit nervous, and the quality of play early wasn’t great. Then Novak really tightened it up; had a high percentage of first serves. John didn’t quite get off the blocks with his power game. You guys have seen him when plays the way he can. He’s moving in that direction. He’s been practicing great this week, and I think we’ll see a different John come Sunday. Sam’s match, you know, he grinded through the first set; lost a little bit of momentum in the second set when he had it; and then he just buckled down and never wavered. I think the strength that he gained in Jacksonville winning those two matches was on full display there in the end. Look, things are tough. If we’re down 2 0, it’s a long way home for any team, and particularly (against) a team as deep as Serbia.”