(September 17, 2015) The United States will face off against Uzbekistan for the first time ever in the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor red clay court at the Olympic Tennis School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Friday’s singles play will first feature world No. 47 Steve Johnson against world No. 62 Denis Istomin. Johnson will be making his Davis Cup debut, while Istomin will be competing in his 24th Davis Cup tie (he holds a 26-10 singles record in Davis Cup competition). Johnson and Istomin have never met on the ATP World Tour.
“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “I’ve had a lot experience watching the Davis Cup a couple of times as a practice partner. Growing up as a kid, watching it on TV, I’ve always wanted to be on the team. I’m excited to go out there on Friday against Denis. He’s a great player and I’m excited to get out there and try to get a win.
“It’s something that we have to get used to,” Johnson said about playing the tie on a clay court. “I was kind of mentally unprepared to play on the clay again after the French. It’s not my game style. I’m excited to get back out there and play Denis. I’ve never played him before so it will be a fun experience to play someone new.”
“Steve is a great player, but of course Davis Cup is different than other tournaments,” Istomin said. “It will be a tough match for us. For Uzbekistan, this is a match for the history. For us, it will be a big opportunity and big chance.”
Defeating team USA will be a big ask for the Uzbeks. It would take Istomin to win all three of his rubbers for them to beat the US. “I’m ready for it,” he said. “Against, the USA, it will be really, really tough. It is a small chance for us. It will be difficult for us. I hope I have energy to play in my two singles and the doubles. It will be the most successful tie for us if we passed the USA and we go to the World Group for the first time. It will be a big for the country and the young players as well. It would be amazing.”
In the second match on Friday, world No. 29 Jack Sock and world No. 158 Farrukh Dustov will face off. Sock is also making his Davis Cup debut, while Dustov has played in 23 Davis Cup ties and holds a 10-17 singles record. Sock and Dustov have never met on the ATP World Tour, but played each other last year at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger on clay in Savannah, Ga., with Sock winning in three sets.
“I feel good,” Sock said about making his debut for the US Davis Cup team. “Obviously this was a big goal of mine to play Davis Cup. I love the team atmospheres. I always love representing my country any way that I can. (I’m an) All American guy from the Midwest – there’s no better feeling that putting on the red, white and blue and playing for your country. The debut here in Tashkent will hopefully be a good one for us. Hopefully I will play well and contribute to the team. I’m looking to play some good tennis. Hopefully we can get a win.”
Sock responded to questions about his health which forced him to retire from a match at the US Open due to the heat. “That was very unfortunate,” he said. “The US Open is my favorite tournament of the year, my favorite two weeks of the year. It was never easy to go out there and playing in front of the home crowd and go out like that, especially when I was in a good position and playing well. I tried to put it behind me the best I can and I’m doing things I need to do off the court and with doctors and my team to get that situation under control. I think I will be okay here. I love the clay and I feel like if I was able to go four sets with Rafa (Nadal) in Paris, I think I can come out here and be able to put in what I need to physically out here.”
The United States Davis Cup Team will be playing in Asia for just the sixth time and holds a 5-0 record in the country. The U.S. fell to Great Britain, 3-2, in the World Group First Round in March in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.S. is 77-46 when playing on the road.
Uzbekistan has never competed in the World Group, while the U.S. is 7-1 in World Group Playoffs. Uzbekistan has reached the World Group Playoff on eight occasions, in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, and also between 1998 and 2001. The U.S. is 7-1 in World Group Playoffs, with its only loss coming in 1987 to West Germany.
The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles and owns the longest uninterrupted run in the World Group, dating back to 1989. The U.S. holds a 214-69 all-time Davis Cup record and has a winning record against 35 of the 39 countries faced and a level record with one country. The U.S. is undefeated versus 21 countries and holds an active winning streak against 34 nations. Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international men’s team competition with 126 nations entered in 2015.
The winner of this tie qualifies for the 2016 Davis Cup World Group and is eligible to compete for the Davis Cup title next year. The losing nation will compete in its respective Zone Group I competition in 2016.
Order of play
DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME EVENT DETAILS/PAIRING
Friday, 10:00 a.m.
Singles A: Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB)
Singles B: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Farrukh Dustov (UZB)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m.
Doubles: Sam Querrey/Steve Johnson (USA)
vs. Denis Istomin/Farrukh Dustov (UZB)
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Singles C: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB)
Singles D: Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Farrukh Dustov (UZB)
The tie will air on Tennis Channel in the United States.