For all of the conversation about Boise's altitude and the speed of a tennis ball leading up to Friday's first match of the Davis Cup Quarterfinal, it turns out that taking some speed off of the ball (pardon the pun) served Novak Djokovic well. The world's No. 1 player, and leader of team Serbia, served a change-up—at only about 80 mph—and instead used every inch of the court to keep the USA's John Isner off of his game. Ultimately, Djokovich took the first set tiebreaker and went on to win the first match—7-6, 6-2, 6-5—in the best-of-five tournament.
More than 8,000 fans cheered the competition at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena.
Isner started extremely well, exploding with serves clocked at more than 130 mph, and forcing Djokovic into a first set tiebreaker.
"I was a bit nervous at the start," said Djokovic after the match. "Perhaps I was too cautious with my play."
But Djokovic countered Isner's powerhouse serves (and multiple misses) with a slower-paced strategy.
"I tried to use my... my efficiency, let's say," said Djokovic. "I got a better percentage of my first series in and then I worked him around the court."
Isner racked up 17 aces but committed 37 unforced errors.
"He was able to get back [into the the match] in that first set," said Isner, who paused and looked down during his post-match press conference. "I wish it could have been different."
But Team USA rebounded in a big way Friday night as the top American men's player (No. 20 in the world) Sam Querrey stretched Viktor Troicki (No. 44 in the world) to five sets, defeating the Serbian 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a three hour-plus match.
The tournament, tied 1-1, now sets up an exciting two days with USA's Bob and Mike Bryan (yes, they're twins) heavily favored to take on the Serbs. Team captains still have the opportunity to swap out doubles players up to one hour before the match begins. That leaves the door open for Djokovic, who might step into Serbia's doubles team. He's more rested than Troicki, but Djokovic still has to play another singles match on Sunday. Historically, when the United States is tied, 1-1, in Davis Cup competition, the Bryan Brothers are 10-1. The U.S. is 56-25 all-time when tied 1-1.
The Bryan brothers are owners of 86 tournament titles—including 13 majors (a record).
Doubly sweet (pardon the other pun) is that the Bryans played in Boise for the old Idaho Sneakers, a World Team Tennis member, in the late 1990s.