WASHINGTON, April 5, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)
Fresh off winning his first ATP Masters 1000 singles title at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Sunday, World No. 9 John Isner was nominated by U.S. team captain Jim Courier to open the United States-Belgium Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal tie on Friday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Isner will play No. 319 Joris De Loore of Belgium in the first singles rubber at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center.
Thursday afternoon’s draw for the U.S.-Belgium tie took place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the festivities included a live concert. Filling out the rest of the U.S. lineup will be No. 14 Sam Querrey, who will face Belgium’s top healthy player, No. 110 Ruben Bemelmans, in the second singles rubber on Friday. Then, in Saturday’s doubles rubber, Americans Ryan Harrison (ranked 17th in doubles) and Jack Sock (26th) will be paired against Sander Gille (84th) and Joran Vliegen (98th) of Belgium. On Sunday, in the reverse singles, it’s Isner versus Bemelmans followed by Querrey against De Loore. All matches will be played on an indoor hard court, a surface which should favor the Americans.
“I’m feeling pretty good about my game,” said Isner after the draw ceremony. “I played very well in Miami. Got my game into fifth gear there. I think what’s important is that you have to be able to shift gears coming back into an event like this, to bring it down a little bit. Now, I have to have the ability to rev it back up, get it back into that fifth gear.”
Meanwhile, injuries to Belgium’s two top singles players, No. 10 David Goffin and No. 143 Steve Darcis, forced team captain Johan Van Herck to elevate Bemelmans and De Loore into the Belgian singles lineup this weekend.
“We’re big-time underdogs,” said Bemelmans on Thursday. “We have to step on court, we’re going to give it all. Yeah, it’s a new tie, so everything can happen here.
“We made two finals in the last three years, but that doesn’t say anything. Now, we have to give it all, just see how it goes.”
Play on both Friday and Saturday begins at 4 p.m. local time (9 p.m. GMT) and Sunday at 2 p.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT).
The winner of the United States-Belgium tie advances to the World Group semifinals against the winner of the Croatia-Kazakhstan tie, September 14-16.
About the author
Michael Dickens is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance journalist who writes and blogs about tennis.