DAVIS CUP STUNNER IN SWITZERLAND
Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0
By Junior Williams
FRIBOURG, Switzerland — This wasn’t supposed to happen.
A home crowd left the Forum Fribourg stunned after the United States took a 2-0 lead against Switzerland in their first round Davis Cup World Group clash, as John Isner shocked Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 and Mardy Fish defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 in a 4 hour 26 minute showdown.
Switzerland’s game plan was set: Host the tie on clay — a surface that’s usually Kryptonite to the Americans — and throw 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer into the mix. But the Americans had other ideas.
At first it looked as if Federer was on track to dispatch Isner quickly. The Swiss was working his usual magic with forehand winners and strong service games resulting in short points. It took Federer only 29 minutes to win the first set. But Isner evened things up in the second set, thanks to his biggest weapon — his serve.
Isner got off to a fast start in the third set tiebreak, jumping to a 3-0 lead, but Federer broke back in with a forehand winner to make it 4-3 USA, putting the Swiss back on serve. But Isner recovered his mini-break as a Federer shot into the net put the American up 5-4. The former Georgia Bulldog went on to serve out the set, silencing the Swiss faithful.
Federer had an opportunity with the fourth set tied at 2-2 and a triple break point, but Isner withstood the challenge and held to go up 3-2. He never lost another game in the match as he mixed up his serves from power to slice, and hit groundstrokes resulting in powerful forehand winners. Federer looked as stunned as the crowd, as if he couldn’t believe what was happening, He had lots of company.
In his post match on-court interview, Isner — the first to beat Federer in Davis Cup singles since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 — said it was the biggest win of his career. Who can argue with that?
“We’re up 2-0, which is a great start,” Isner said in his post-match news conference.Â “That was our goal coming into today, and we accomplished it.Â Mardy put forth a great effort in the first match.Â Obviously that was so gutsy.Â What it did, it took a lot of pressure off of me, I felt.Â Mardy getting that win was obviously huge, and it was huge for me as well.”
For the Americans, Isner’s victory was the cherry on top. According to conventional wisdom, Fish’s match against Wawrinka was a must win for the U.S., assuming a Federer win in the second match. But Fish pulled out the victory despite an erratic service game including eight double faults. He saved five break points to go up 5-3 in the fifth set, but failed to serve out the match up 5-4, as Wawrinka’s masterful backhand shots helped even things up at 5-5.
Much to the dismay of the crowd, Fish broke the Swiss to go up 8-7, and capped the victory with a winner at net.
In terms of victories Fish said: “It’s certainly up there.Â There’s no doubt about it.Â I think, you know, (Davis Cup at) Colombia jumps out me; obviously the Olympics jump out at me.Â As far as the Davis Cup and the team aspect of it, yeah, this is certainly right up there with them.”
The Americans can clinch the tie Saturday with a doubles victory. The U.S. is scheduled to send out Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison, as Mike’s brother Bob didn’t make the trip since he’s a new father. But the watch is on to see if U.S. captain Jim Courier swaps out Harrison for either Fish or Isner.
No matter who Courier picks, the U.S. will have its hands full, likely facing the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal doubles team of Federer and Wawrinka.
Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a momentâ€™s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.