Djokovic, Isner to square off in opening match of Davis Cup tie

Watch Novak Djokovic play a point against Viktor Troicki at Taco Bell Arena.

By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

The order of play for Friday’s singles matches was determined at Thursday’s Davis Cup draw ceremony, completing the schedule for this week.

Friday’s matches:

No. 23 John Isner (U.S.) vs. No. 1 Novak Djokovic (Serbia), 1:30 p.m.
Note: Djokovic is 2-1 vs. Isner, but the matches have lasted 10 of a possible 11 sets. Isner won the last meeting.

No. 20 Sam Querrey (U.S.) vs. No. 44 Viktor Troicki (Serbia), approximately 20 minutes after the first match ends
Note: Troicki is 2-1 vs. Querrey. Two of those best-of-three matches required three sets.

Saturday’s match:

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (U.S.) vs. Nenad Zimonjic and TBA (Serbia), 1 p.m. Serbia officially announced Ilija Bozoljac as the doubles partner but the Americans expect Troicki to play. The Serbians can make a change within an hour of the match.

Sunday’s matches:

Querrey vs. Djokovic, noon

Isner vs. Troicki, approximately 20 minutes after the first match ends


Some comments from the participants at Thursday’s press conferences:

— U.S. captain Jim Courier: We’re going to have do play our best tennis, no holds barred best tennis to get through this weekend, starting with the first ball to the last ball. Every single match is going to be difficult but we feel like we can make things difficult for them, too.”

— Querrey said he probably will watch a little of Isner’s match Friday, then retreat to the locker room to prepare for his match. Players are accustomed to operating without a set start time because that’s how tour events are run.

— Courier on the singles matches: “If you follow what these guys do and what their opponents do, it’s an interesting matchup. Players don’t necessarily play the same way, so it’ll be a nice little A, B battle out there.”

— Djokovic said Boise’s altitude (2,871 feet) is the highest of any city where he has competed. Players said early in the week they had trouble with shots sailing long, but they have adjusted. Practices began Saturday. “You can’t expect maybe too many long points because the ball travels through the air much faster than in normal conditions,” Djokovic said.


The most important player this week might be the one with the lowest profile.

Troicki likely will be the only guy to play on all three days of the tie — unless Serbia decides to insert Djokovic into the doubles match.

Troicki is playing two singles matches because of the unavailability of No. 10 Janko Tipsarevic. And Troicki usually plays in the Davis Cup doubles match with Zimonjic.

“We haven’t decided who’s going to play (doubles),” Troicki said. “Personally, I feel ready and fresh and fit to play all three days if I have to. I’ve been in that situation. It won’t be easy, I know, but I’ll give my best if I have to go on the court all three days.”

Troicki has played Davis Cup for Serbia since 2008. He is 12-8 in singles (8-5 in live matches) and 4-1 in doubles.

He is 2-1 against top American Sam Querrey and 3-1 against John Isner. He split with them in a 2010 Davis Cup tie in Serbia.

“He’s a world-class player,” Isner said. “… Just as in Novak, we’re going to have to play well if we want to beat him.”

Troicki won the decisive fifth match against France in straight sets as Serbia overcame a 2-1 deficit to win the 2010 Davis Cup.

On the ATP World Tour, he only has one singles title — three years ago in Moscow.

“Obviously the biggest success for our country as a team, and personally my best experience on the court, was winning that Davis Cup title,” he said. “It just felt great. It gave us all a lot of confidence on the court.”


The U.S. Davis Cup team includes two players whose work won’t be seen in public but will help the Americans compete this week.

Tennys Sandgren, 21, and Mitchell Krueger, 19, are the team practice partners — playing head-to-head with the stars every day.

“This has been a ton of fun,” Krueger said. “I’ve hit with these guys before, but never consistently several days in a row. This is nice because we feel like we’re part of the team.”

The job is a rite of passage for up-and-coming American tennis players. Team members Sam Querrey and John Isner were practice partners multiple times.

“It’s an opportunity for our team to bring some younger players along and give them a chance to be a part of the Davis Cup team — hopefully they aspire to be on the team,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “Their role is to be on the court and give everything they have to get the singles and doubles players ready for match play. They’ll probably spend more time on the court than anyone all week.”

The team practices for 3 hours each morning. Isner and Querrey try to play two sets each during that time. In the afternoon, the practice is focused more on specific shots.

Sandgren, who was playing a tournament in Mexico last week, didn’t arrive until Monday because of travel delays. That left Krueger to spend 3 hours on the court Sunday and Monday against the two powerful U.S. singles players.

“I played eight sets in two days, so I was glad when he got here,” Krueger said.

Krueger was the top-ranked junior in the U.S. and peaked at No. 5 in the world in January 2012. He reached the semifinals in the boys singles at the French Open and Wimbledon last year, then turned pro. He’s playing primarily the Futures tour.

Sandgren — who was named after his great-grandfather, who was not a tennis player — is a former Tennessee All-American playing primarily in Challenger events. That’s the level between the Futures tour and the ATP World Tour.

Krueger has won one set this week, 6-4 against Isner.

“They’ve told us to just play your game, play your style and give the guys the best competition we can,” Sandgren said. “… It’s really good to see the level they’re playing at. This is a good goal — maybe one day we could possibly play on the Davis Cup team.”

In the meantime, they’re here to serve in any capacity the team needs.

“(The players) have been great,” Sandgren said. “They haven’t made us do any crazy stuff — yet, anyway.”


Here is a Sports Illustrated story from 2011 on Djokovic. The magazine sent a reporter to Serbia.

And here is a New York Times story on this week’s tie in Boise.



April 4: Novak Djokovic is a national hero in Serbia
April 3: Boise has a small but active tennis community
April 3: Fans should get rowdy
April 3: Davis Cup notes
April 2: Americans Sam Querrey, John Isner have big opportunity
April 1: Spain’s first-round loss could benefit U.S.-Serbia winner
March 31: Science played a role in getting the Davis Cup to Boise.
March 26: Jim Courier a natural to lead U.S.
March 26: Teams named for Boise tie
Feb. 14: Davis Cup coming to Boise


April 3: Kids clinic a big hit
April 2: Press conference highlights
April 1: Check out John Isner’s serve and Taco Bell Arena’s tennis look


Friday: 1 p.m. John Isner (U.S.) vs. Novak Djokovic (Serbia), Sam Querrey (U.S.) vs. Viktor Troicki (Serbia).
Saturday: 12:30 p.m. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (U.S.) vs. Nenad Zimonjic and TBA (Serbia).
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. Querrey vs. Djokovic, Isner vs. Troicki.
Note: Matches/Tennis Channel coverage begin a half-hour after official start times.

Single-day tickets range in price from $35 to $175. Three-day packages remain available, starting at $90. Tickets are available at idahotickets.com, at the Taco Bell Arena box office and by phone (888-484-8782).

Davis Cup glossary
Davis Cup: The international team tennis competition began in 1900 as a duel between the U.S. and Great Britain. Four Harvard tennis players created the concept and one of them, Dwight Davis, designed the format and bought a trophy. More countries joined the competition in 1905, it grew to include 20-plus in the 1920s and 50 in 1969. The current format began in 1981.
World Group: The Davis Cup received entries from 130 nations in 2013, making it the largest annual international team competition in sports. Only 16, including the U.S. and Serbia this year, compete in the World Group — the top level. The eight first-round losers drop into playoffs against winners of the Zone Groups to determine which nations move up to the World Group and which fall out for the next year.
Tie: A Davis Cup matchup between two nations. It’s a best-of-five format — four singles matches and one doubles match. Matches are best-of-five sets with no tiebreaker in the fifth set. After the tie has been clinched, matches become best-of-three.
Rubber: Each match in a tie is called a rubber.
Live/dead rubber: A live rubber is one played while the tie is still in doubt. A dead rubber is one played after one team has clinched the victory.
Choice of ground: The host nation decides the site and playing surface for a tie. Nations alternate hosting, so the U.S. is at home this week because it played at Serbia the last time the teams met. If two teams haven’t met since 1970, the host is determined by lot.

On the Web

Davis Cup
U.S. Davis Cup
ATP World Tour

Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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