US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier must have been pretty confident to send out Olympic bronze medalists Jack Sock and Steve Johnson to earn the third and deciding point as Team USA faced off against Switzerland. The Americans had to snake their way through a determined Swiss duo of Adrien Bossel/Henri Laaksonen 7-6(3) 6-3 7-6(5).
The doubles rubber victory sealed the first-round for the US. They will travel to Australian for a second-round matchup.
Playing in the shadow of Bob and Mike Bryan didn’t seem to affect the American team and a packed, partisan crowd in Birmingham, Ala. Earlier this year the twins, who own just about every men’s doubles record any team could ever want, announced their retirement from Davis Cup competition. The Bryans won and played in more US Davis Cup matches than any other team. Since 2003, the brothers have been such a mainstay that the team U.S. had only sent out four different combinations for the doubles rubber in 34 ties. Compare that to most countries who often send out a hodgepodge of non-stars to represent them.
Like the Swiss, who are here without two of the world’s best: Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
Courier choose to go with the Sock/Johnson combo instead of playing Sam Querrey, who was relegated to the fourth spot on the team as Sock and John Isner where picked as singles players. It’s fair to predict that Querrey will be pegged to play one of the two dead rubbers on Sunday. These matches will be the best of three sets.
In doubles, the Americans pulled out the first set by overcoming a mini-break early in the tiebreak. Throughout that set the Swiss couldn’t smack a backhand winner while Sock/Johnson totaled eight.
The second set was another story as the Americans took a strong lead, winning 13 of 14 points in the early games. The Swiss rebounded with one break but still couldn’t counter the Americans, who converted two of five break points.
The third set provided some real drama, igniting a crowd who inserted chants and songs into pauses in the action. Both teams capitalized on a break each to set up a tiebreak.
Sock and Johnson hits a number of stunning points, with low-angled volleys and crushing overheads. The Swiss had a chance to blast away an overhead late in the tiebreak. But the overhead didn’t have much pace and Americans were able to track it down and smash a down-the-middle groundstroke winner. The point of the match.
Australia, led by legend and captain Lleyton Hewitt, surprising took down the Czech Republic in straight matches. The Czechs played without top player Tomas Berdych.
While playing on the road in Tokyo, France took all three matches to advance. Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon made the trip while Kei Nishikori did not play.
Led by Novak Djokovic, Serbia dispatched Russia in three. Italy, Croatia and Belgium stand 2-1 after two days.