Australia vs USA, USA vs Australia. A tie with immense tennis history. An extraordinary level was expected from these two nations, who are fighting for a place in the Davis Cup quarterfinals, with 50 Davis Cup titles between them. This is the 46th time they are playing each other and USA is leading by 5.
The scenario could not be better. Melbourne-based Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club changed its modern and blue Plexicushion surface, the same as the Australian Open, for the traditional green of the grass. Certainly, Australia wanted to get back to the roots of the game.
Comfortable win for Isner
John Isner certainly is not a grass player. However he managed to get his first singles victory in an away Davis Cup tie since 2012, a 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Sam Groth, which now gives him a 9-9 record. The match was an exhibition of massive servers (36 aces in total).
Unfortunately for the noisy Aussie crowd, Groth could not keep the pace after losing the first set tiebreak: “I think I could have served a little bit better for sure but it’s tough when the guy starts taking cuts”, said the Aussie after the match. “I hit one on top of the body and he hit a couple of forehands up the line off those and you maybe start to question a little bit what you’re doing. But I feel like I could have served better, but I don’t think like it was horrendous.”
The heat and the surface were a challenge today for Team USA. However “The Marathon Man” identified his preparation as a key of his strong performance today: “We put in a very, very good week of practice and getting here on Saturday I believe helped”, he declared. “All of us have been prepared very well with Jim [Courier] and with Jay Berger. So we have everything at our disposal to do well. I was very well prepared.”
Tomic levels the tie
Finally, Bernard Tomic won his match after a lot of hesitation in the third set, levelling the tie at 1-1. The Aussie troublemaker managed to stop Jack Sock impetus in the third and the beginning of the fourth to win the match 7-6(2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Tomic found that in those low moments Lleyton Hewitt was “saying the right things, all the positive things to get my confidence back; I was losing really the games easily and Lleyton said the right things”.
Bernie reacted on time, winning a great point from the line to win the first point of the ninth game, breaking Sock’s serve to then finish the set, 6-4. He didn’t want to disappoint to the crowd but most importantly, he wanted to win for Hewitt. “It is Lleyton’s first tie as captain and we all want to perform well and win the series”, he said.
The first day of great tennis has finished, with the tie even at 1-1. The doubles rubber will be crucial for the chances of both teams. Both captains agreed that the Bryan brothers are the favourites, but the big question, is… Would Hewitt play tomorrow, or maybe on Sunday? Australia may need it.
(Photos: Getty Images)