(July 17, 2016) BEAVERTON, Oregon – The United States came into day three of their Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Croatia leading 2-1. Friday saw the U.S. get two singles wins and on Saturday the Bryan brothers lost for only their fifth time in quarterfinal Davis Cup play on Saturday.
In the first singles rubber on Sunday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton, Oregon, John Isner had a chance to close the tie and send the team into the semifinals in September with a win over Marin Cilic.
Cilic, who coming into the day had a 5-0 record against the American, would deny the U.S. from closing the tie. Cilic extended his perfect record over Isner to 6-0 with a 7-6(9), 6-3, 6-4 victory forcing a fifth and deciding rubber later on Sunday.
Isner gave all credit to his opponent.
“I felt like he played pretty well, to be honest,” Isner said to media. “The first set was critical. Felt like I definitely was the better player in the first set.
“Didn’t get paid off, but that’s on me. He came up with the goods when he needed it. That gave him a lot of confidence I think. He got his legs underneath him even more after the first set as well.
“I knew it was going to be a tough task. He was going to be feeling pretty confident because he played very well yesterday in the doubles. I felt like he carried that over today in the singles.”
“I felt from the beginning of the match that John (Isner) start(ed) extremely well, Cilic said in his post-match news conference. “He was not missing much; he was very aggressive; making a lot of returns back.
“He was covering most of the court. I was, in my service games, in trouble for a lot of times in that first set. I felt that I had to be every point very focused, very aggressive as much as I can to stay in there, not to have any loose points.
“I was just hoping that I’m going to get to the tiebreak to give myself a chance there to try to do something.
“During the first set I didn’t have any opportunities on his serve, and I felt that he played probably the best set in all of our encounters from the past. That was definitely a tough task, but I stayed in there mentally. I was very, very focused.”
For Cilic this was his third straight day playing, losing his opening singles on Friday to Jack Sock, after leading 2 sets to none, pairing with Dodig to win the doubles on Saturday and winning in reverse singles on Sunday.
Asked if his doubles victory gave him some confidence for Sunday’s singles, Cilic replied: “I just took some positives out of that match. I was very emotionally involved yesterday. I was very motivated. When you are losing that kind of match like I did on Friday, things can go negatively and you can go down.
“I tried to just lift myself up with the team. I was very much emotionally focused to be positive throughout yesterday’s match, and also today I felt it helped me to lift my game in critical situations.
“Especially when you play three days in a row you can get a little bit tired also towards the end and you can miss some balls that you are not regularly missing.
“So I was trying to be very focused with those emotions to stay in there throughout all the match.”
Croatia has never come back from 0-2 down to win a Davis Cup tie.
Scheduled to play in the final match are No. 26 Jack Sock for the US and No. 54 Borna Coric for Croatia. This will be the second time they have played each other. Sock beat Coric in straight sets at the French Open last year.
The winner of this tie will play France in the Davis Cup semifinal September 16-18.