Behind Isner, U.S. wraps up Davis Cup win over Australia

March 5, 2016 09:02 PM

By Ashley Marshall,

John Isner sent the United States back to the Davis Cup quarterfinals with a victory over Australia’s Bernard Tomic on Sunday.

World No. 11 Isner toppled Tomic, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4), to give the U.S. an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five matchup on the grass courts of Kooyong outside Melbourne.

The U.S. now advances to the final eight of the World Group and will host either Croatia or Belgium July 15-17. It is the first time the U.S., the all-time Davis Cup leader with 32 championships, has advanced to the quarterfinals since 2013, having lost in the first round to Great Britain in both 2014 and 2015.

Australia will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 16-18, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2017.

“After the last couple of years, it’s massive for us,” U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier said. “You can’t take any of these for granted. This is a tough matchup on paper and it was a tough matchup in reality when we stepped on the court. So for us into the second round is a big deal.”

On Sunday, Isner broke Tomic in the fifth game of the first set, in which he dropped just one point on serve, to  leap out to an early advantage. The American then capitalized on his fourth break-point opportunity at 3-3 in the second frame to establish a 2-0 cushion.

Tomic fought his way back into contention in a third set that featured 11 consecutive service holds, with neither player creating an opportunity to break. But with Isner looking to stay in the set and force a tiebreak at 5-6, Tomic earned the breakthrough in a mammoth game that featured six deuces and eventually saw Tomic wrestle the set away from Isner at the fifth try.

With the momentum clearly with the world No. 20, but Isner still nursing the advantage on the scoreboard, the fourth set proved to be as close as the previous one. This time, however, both players held comfortably  throughout, with Isner – who recorded 49 aces and set the all-time Davis Cup and ATP Tour serving speed record of 157 mph – eventually prevailing on his second match point in the breaker.

It was Isner’s second win over Tomic, following his 6-3, 6-2 triumph on the ATP Tour in Delray Beach in 2012. The 30-year-old North Carolina native improved to 10-9 over 11 Davis Cup ties.

“I certainly played some matches where I’ve had a lot of aces, but at the same time he was guessing quite a bit,” said Isner (pictured above). “I made a lot of first serves, so it was a very good serving day for me for sure. I had a great rhythm the whole match from the very first point, so it was good.”

Isner’s victory is his second singles match this weekend in Australia. He opened the tie with a straight-sets victory over Sam Groth on Friday evening before the Aussies leveled the match behind Tomic’s victory over Jack Sock. The Bryan brothers gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead with a doubles win over the first-time pairing of captain Lleyton Hewitt and Davis Cup debutant John Peers on Saturday and Isner wrapped up the contest. The final scheduled match of the tie, between Sock and Groth, was not played.