March 26, 2017

Davis Cup: U.S. Shuts Out The Swiss – Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

DAVIS CUP: U.S. SHUTS OUT THE SWISS
Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

By Junior Williams

(February 5, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Americans Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson each posted straight sets victories in dead rubbers to give the United States a 5-0 victory over Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round.

Querrey defeated lefty Adrien Bossel 6-3, 7-5 in a 73-minute match. The Californian blasted 16 aces past the 485th-ranked Bossel and faced zero break points.

It took Johnson only an hour to beat another Swiss left-hander — 20-year old Antoine Bellier — 6-4, 6-3, in a very entertaining match featuring powerful groundstrokes and strong returns. The players combined committed only 16 unforced errors for the entire match.

The U.S. now turns its attention to the quarterfinals in April, when the team will face Australia in a road tie. The Aussies will be looking for revenge after losing in the first round last year to the Americans in Kooyong.

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie. TEam USA is 26-20 versus Australia in Davis Cup play.

Switzerland will try to remain in the World Group by winning its play-off match-up September 15-17.

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The U.S. victory marks the second straight American sweep of the Swiss. The last one was a 2012 shocker on clay in Fribourg, Switzerland that included Mardy Fish defeating Stan Wawrinka 9-7 in the 5th set, John Isner beating Roger Federer in four sets – and a doubles win for Mike Bryan and Fish over Federer and Wawrinka, also in four sets.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Final results
Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) d. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1
Singles B: John Isner (USA) d. Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1)
Doubles: Jack Sock/Steve Johnson (USA)
d. Adrien Bossel/Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Singles C: Sam Querrey (USA) d. Adrien Bossel (SUI), 6-3, 7-5
Singles D: Steve Johnson (USA) d. Antoine Bellier (SUI), 6-4, 6-3

 

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Davis Cup: U.S. Clinches Quarterfinal Berth; Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

DAVIS CUP: U.S. CLINCHES QUARTERFINAL BERTH

Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

 

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 4, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – For the clincher, United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier called on the 2016 Olympic bronze medal doubles team.

Jack Sock and Steve Johnson delivered for the U.S. with a 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Switzerland’s Adrien Bossel and Henri Laaksonen. The win gives the Americans an insurmountable 3-0 lead in this World Group first round tie, advancing to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Australia on the road for a second consecutive year.

Both Courier and Swiss Captain Severin Luthi switched up their originally scheduled lineups: Jack Sock replaced Sam Querrey for the Americans, while Luthi went with Laaksonen instead of Antoine Bellier. Laaksonen had an impressive return of serve during Friday’s second singles rubber, despite losing to John Isner in four sets.

The U.S. took the lead in the first set, winning a tiebreak capped by a Steve Johnson forehand winner up the sideline to go up 6-3, followed by a Johnson forehand that was hit long by the Swiss. The Americans won 85-percent of their first serve points in the set.

Serving in the first game of the second set, Jack Sock vehemently disputed a lineman’s foot fault call, but to no avail. As the game went on the U.S. found itself in a 0-40 hole, but eventually staved off those three break points and held serve. The Americans broke the Swiss in the next game, which ended with a thrilling rally punctuated by a Sock winner at net — bringing fans at the Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex to their feet.

Both teams exchanged breaks of serve later in the set, but the U.S. went on to win it on a Sock service winner. A stellar performance at the net by Johnson also a major factor contributing to the Americans’ two set lead.

Switzerland refused to go quietly. Spurred on by their fans chanting “Hop Suisse,” the Swiss team broke the U.S. to go up 3-1 in the third set on a Laaksonen overhead smash at net. But the visitors blew a golden opportunity when the Americans staved off three set points and broke Switzerland to get the set back on serve at 5-4.

The U.S. closed out the rubber and clinched the tie by winning a third set tiebreak, which ended with the Swiss at net hitting the ball past the baseline. After each team shook hands, the American team took a victory lap around the court with the U.S. flag, cheered on by the home crowd.

Despite being heavy underdogs without their top guns Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss have given the U.S. a good fight – and will attempt to remain in Davis Cup’s top tier when they compete in the World Group Play-offs this coming September.

“If you lose, it’s disappointed that you lost,” noted Swiss captain Severin Luthi. “I mean, I’m never like happy when we lose or if I lose. Even if it’s card games or whatever, I’m never happy.

“So disappointed. But, again, I have to say the same as yesterday. It wasn’t the performance of the players at all, you know. I thought they gave everything. They were, yeah — they had chances first and third set, and unfortunately we just couldn’t make it.”

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go back and battle those guys (Australia) again,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. “They came through pretty comfortably as well. Hugely talented team. Passionate Davis Cup nation. Had a lot of fun playing down in Melbourne with them.

“Obviously got the result we wanted which makes it a lot more fun, but they’re a knowledgeable crowd and they have won a ton of Davis Cups, so they know what it’s all about.

“It will be exciting for us to go down. We’re already talking about it, looking forward to it. We have work to do tomorrow. We’re not your overlooking the matches on Sunday. We will be ready to play tomorrow for sure, even though this thing is decided.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re anxious to get down there and battle on. We really want to get out to the semifinals and see what we can do this year.”

Two dead rubbers are scheduled for Sunday – and we have yet to see Querrey and Bellier play in this tie.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Davis Cup: Home Cookin’ in the Deep South; Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

DAVIS CUP: HOME COOKING IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The heavily favored United States team lived up to expectations as Jack Sock and John Isner won their respective singles rubbers against Switzerland, giving the Americans a 2-0 lead in the first round of Davis Cup Cup World Group competition at Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

 

Switzerland is playing this tie without its two top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer who won the Australian Open last week.

 

Isner’s victory over world No. 127 Henri Laaksonen was far from a cakewalk. It took two hours and 44 minutes for the American to win the rubber 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1).

 

In the first set, Isner’s powerful service game was blunted by Laaksonen executing solid returns and winning long rallies. Isner saved three break points to knot the set at 4-4, but the Swiss went on to win the set by breaking the world No. 23.

Isner committed 21 unforced errors during the set and backhanded numerous shots into the net.

 

The 31-year old Isner seemed to find his rhythm in the second set after breaking Laaksonen to go up 3-2, helped by a more effective service game — striking seven aces during the set and winning 84-percent of his first serve points. On the flip side, Laaksonen committed three double faults, including one that gave the U.S. a 5-2 advantage. Isner won the next game, closing it out with his 12th ace of the match.

John Isner

The American got off to a fast start in the third set. He broke the Swiss in the first game with a winning forehand passing shot as Laaksonen approached the net. Isner held in the second game, but not before staving off three break points. In this set it was Laaksonen with 21 unforced errors helping Isner cruise through the remainder of the set.

 

The fourth set was a tight affair as both players battled. Isner was visibly frustrated by the 24-year old Laaksonen’s returns and defensive play. But when tiebreak time came around, it was all Isner. After a mini-break on the first point — followed by two service winners — victory came five points later when Laaksonen double faulted. During the on-court post-match interview, Isner admitted to being nervous at times during the match.

 

“I’ll take the film of that first set and just throw it in the fire, delete that one,” Isner said in his post-match news conference. “I think more than anything I was a little bit nervous, and that was affecting my footwork quite a lot. With me being so big and when my footed work is not sharp, it can be ugly. It was in the first set.”

 

Jim stayed on me to stay positive, even though I wasn’t feeling very positive out there. I think that’s actually what tilted the match in my favor a little bit. Certainly could have been cleaner, but Davis Cup you ties throw out rankings and whatnot, it’s tough touch out there in these matches, so I’m happy to get the win.

 

In the first rubber, it took just under two hours for No. 1 American Jack Sock to defeat Marco Chiudinelli — ranked 146 in the world — 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Things were pretty even until Sock won the first set by breaking Chiudinelli with an overhead lob that was retrieved but hit just wide of the sideline.

 

“There are always few extra nerves I think playing Davis Cup,” Sock said. “When you’re playing for your country, being a part of a team, maybe at a normal event, normal tournament, you come out swinging a little bit more.

“I think I was a little hesitant at the beginning; maybe too conservative playing when obviously my game is to kind of play big and hit big forehands and be aggressive.”

Sock continued to put pressure on the 35-year old Swiss by stepping up his aggressive play, with solid ground strokes and serves with some net play in the mix. For the match, Sock had 29 total winners to Chiudinelli’s eleven. The Nebraska-born 24-year old was never broken in four attempts.

 

The U.S. can clinch the tie by winning Saturday’s doubles match-up — scheduled to be Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson versus Switzerland’s Antoine Bellier and Adrien Bossel. Bellier’s heroics kept the Swiss in the top tier of Davis Cup, courtesy of his 2016 World Group play-off win in the deciding rubber against Uzbekistan back in September.

 

Team USA is not taking anything for granted. They had a 2-0 lead back in July and lost in the quarterfinals to Croatia.

 

Jack Sock

 

“I think as a whole, as a team, like I said, we’re not taking anyone lightly,” Sock noted. “But at the same time, we’re confident in our squad and our four guys in the matchups this weekend.

“We’re going to go one match at time and get one point at time.”

 

A victory would earn the Americans a quarterfinal trip to Australia — a rematch of last year’s first round tie won by the U.S. at Kooyong. Australia clinched their tie against the Czech Republic with a doubles win to give them a 3-0 lead.

 

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EXTRAS:

 

John Isner notched his 500th Davis Cup ace during the fourth set of his match against Henri Laaksonen.

 

Isner was not aware of this upcoming milestone: “I was wondering, because I heard them say 500. I was wondering what that was. Thank you for clarifying that. I had no idea I was close to that in Davis Cup play.

“You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play in a lot of singles matches on the Davis Cup team. I guess that’s a pretty cool number to achieve.

“More than anything, I’m just happy I was able to get the win today. I thought the crowd was great, and we’re up 2-0. We’re in a pretty good spot.”

 

“But Davis Cup anything can happen. You see it every year. Every tie almost you see some kind of crazy things happen.”

 

Unusual for a Davis Cup tie in the U.S. to have a serve speed clock deliver results in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. Fans in the stands were trying to guess the actual MPH.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(January 31, 2017) The United States Davis Cup team will face off in the first round of World Group against Switzerland at the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama.  The Swiss team will be without their top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer, who won the Australian Open on Sunday for his 18th major.

The U.S. team will consist of No. 20 Jack Sock,  No. 23 John Isner, No. 27 Sam Querrey and No. 31 Steve Johnson. Representing team Switzerland will be No. 127 Henri Laaksonen, No. 146 Marco Chiudinelli No. 485 Adrien Bossel and No. 598 Antoine Bellier.

Back on 2009, the U.S. also played Switzerland in Birmingham.

Both teams took part in pre-draw news conferences on Tuesday.

Playing Switzerland without their top two players, looks like an easy task for team USA this weekend, but USA Captain Jim Courier says there are no “gimmies.”

“Now, rankings don’t mean anything,” he said. “Once you get on the court, the ball doesn’t care what your ranking is. You have to hit the shots and win the points.

“We come in ready to play and ready to fight for every point. We don’t expect it to be easy.”

We’re confident that we have four great players here ready to go to battle in five matches,” Courier continued.

“It’s nice to play at home, of course. Nice to have a facility that we like, like this, a court that we like, like this. It’s not always the case.”

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi acknowledged that this weekend won’t be an easy task without Wawrinka and Federer.

“We have the best players behind them here, he said. “We’re going to try to do our best and give 100%. We’ll also try to improve this week. All the rest really doesn’t matter for us.”

“I think one of our strengths is really that the players we have here, especially Marco and Henri, who played more matches already in Davis Cup, they’re always playing well. They give all the time 100%. They’re ready to fight. Yeah, they had good results in Davis Cup. I think that’s one of our big strengths.

“With Antoine, we have a rather young player who is playing the first time last year and helped us staying in the Group. With Adrien also we won the doubles there.

“Obviously we’re completely outsiders here, but as I said, we’re going to try our best and give 100%.”

Bob and Mike Bryan announced their retirement from playing Davis Cup last week during the Australian Open.

“We were blessed to have Bob and Mike on our team for so many years,” Courier said. “They’re incredible. We’ll miss them for sure.

“I have a lot of confidence in these guys. Any combination of these four players would be a very, very good doubles team.

“It is different to not have Bob and Mike here. I wouldn’t say it’s better, but I would say that we feel comfortable that we have great options at our disposal for all of the matches.”

Swiss Captain Luthi was asked if the absence of the Bryan brothers was advantage to his team: “Honestly, I don’t think that it’s a big advantage because they have more flexibility like that for singles also. When they had the brothers in the team, you knew which players are going to play singles.

“Now, like I mentioned, I think all four players can also play doubles. They can change. They can wait and see how the matches on Friday went.

“I don’t think that it’s an advantage for us.”

The draw ceremony will take place on Thursday at the Birmingham Zoo at Noon.

The Davis Cup ties takes place  this weekend February 3-5, on an indoor hard court. Singles play begins at 3:00 p.m. CT on Friday, February 3. Doubles play begins on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. CT. The final two singles matches will be held on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. CT. Tennis Channel will broadcast daily coverage.

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinals to be played April 7-9, against the winner of the Czech Republic vs. Australia tie. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2018.

 

For information on the tie from the USTA .

Related Articles:

Isner, Sock, Johnson and Querrey Named to U.S. Davis Cup Team

Bryan Brothers Retire From U.S. Davis Cup Team

Friendly Fribourg; The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

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