WHITE PLAINS, January 31, 2018
The United States will take on Serbia in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for the third time in eight years, as the Americans are in Nis, Serbia, for a 2018 World Group First Round tie held from 2 to 4 February and be played on an indoor red clay court at the Sportski Centar Cair.
United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier announced that world No. 12 Sam Querrey, No. 18 John Isner, No. 43 Ryan Harrison and No. 50 Steve Johnson will represent the U.S. Though all four have been a part of previous U.S. Davis Cup Teams, this is the first time they’ve been on a U.S. Davis Cup Team together.
Serbian Davis Cup Captain Nenad Zimonjic nominated world No. 84 Dusan Lajovic, No. 88 Laslo Djere, No. 183 Nikola Milojevic, No. 230 Pedja Krstin and No. 302 Miljan Zekic to his team. This is the first year Davis Cup captains may nominate five players to their teams, instead of the previous four – a prevision adopted by the ITF to allow teams greater flexibility in their team selections.
The U.S. has faced Serbia twice before in Davis Cup, in the 2013 Quarterfinals and the 2010 First Round – both meetings won by the Serbs on the strength of two singles victories from Novak Djokovic. The 2013 tie, in Boise, Idaho, also featured a near-record-long doubles match in which Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac defeated Bob and Mike Bryan, 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 5-7, 4-6, 15-13. The 2010 tie, in Belgrade, Serbia, was John Isner’s U.S. Davis Cup debut, where he became the first U.S. player in seven years to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie.
U.S. captain Jim Courier told during the pre-draw press conference on Wednesday:
On the U.S. Davis Cup Team’s time in Nis, Serbia:
“We’re happy to be in Nis. The stadium, the court, the facilities, the hotel are all very comfortable. The Serbian National Tennis Federation has been very welcoming to us. And we’re happy to be here to compete against the Serbian team.”
On the U.S. team:
“We have an experienced team with us with Isner and Querrey and Johnson and Harrison. They’ve all played Davis Cup for the U.S. They’re all experienced players. They’re comfortable on clay. They’ve played lots of matches on this surface, as well. We feel good about our chances against the Serbian team, but we know it will be difficult. It always is in Davis Cup, no matter who’s on the other side. Everyone fights really hard for their country.”
On the Serbian team:
“We obviously know the captain, Nenad, very well, from his time on the tour. And we know Dusan and Laslo very well, because they’re Top 100 players. We know less about the other three players, but we’re gathering information on them. We’ve had a lot of experience playing against players ranked outside of the Top 100 who have had success against us, so we respect all of the players. We know they’re capable and ready to come compete against our team.”
On the court and surface:
“We’ve played on clay plenty of times, including at home sometimes. So, it’s a surface our players are familiar with and comfortable on. Indoor, temporary clay can be challenging, in terms of getting the surface right, but it seems to be pretty stable. Sometimes you can have courts where the ball bounces a little bit oddly because there are holes in the court, but so far this court is playing pretty nicely.”
On how much has changed in tennis since the 1990s:
“The game has gotten faster and more physical. In the ‘90s we didn’t slide on the courts to get to balls because it seemed like we had more time. Now the players have to do that because the ball is traveling fast. The equipment has gotten lighter, the strings have gotten better for the players as far as controlling the ball, and the athletes have gotten bigger and faster, on average.”
Serbian Captain Nenad Zimonjic:
“It will be an extremely difficult task for Lajovic and Djere, but I think that our greatest opportunity is to get matches in singles. They have Ryan Harrison (in doubles), who last year won the French Open. They also have Steve Johnson, who won a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. They are favorites in doubles.
“Their main weapon is the serve, and if you win the first two or three balls to settle down and start a rally, then you have an advantage. John Isner is certainly a tricky opponent for our players. He plays very good on any surface — on clay he beat Roger Federer in Switzerland.
“I will not play (anymore) for the team, except in the case of an injury to Serbian players, but thank God all players are OK. We will give a chance to players who have never been on a (Davis Cup) team. This is a great opportunity for them and I can only wish such a great debut for the national team.”