(September 18, 2015) Making his debut as a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, Jack Sock, ranked 29th in the world, defeated No. 158 Farrukh Dustov, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to level their Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan at 1-1 in the World Group Playoff.
Sock beat Dustov in just under two hours in Tashkent. This was Dustov’s 24th Davis Cup tie and he now holds a 10-18 singles record in Davis Cup play.
“It felt great,” Sock said in regard to leveling the tie and playing Davis Cup. “It has been a big goal of mine. To come here and represent the team has always been a dream of mine growing up, watching Roddick and Blake and all of those guys play, hearing all the great stories about it, being a practice partner. It’s an unreal experience. Anytime I can rep the USA is always a good time.”
“It actually gave me more motivation. It didn’t make me more nervous. I knew I had to buckle down and try and try and get us a win. I was able to do it, thankfully in three sets—get in and get out.”
In the opening singles rubber, another U.S. rookie Steve Johnson made his debut, but with the opposite result. Top Uzbek player, No. 62 Denis Istomin defeated Johnson 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-5 in a back-and-forth match which lasted three hours and 33 minutes.
Istomin rallied for the win after first serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set and after Johnson also served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth set. Both players were two points from victory prior to Istomin breaking serve in the 12th game of the final set to close out the match. Johnson and Istomin had never met on the ATP World Tour prior to this tie. Istomin is now 27-10 in Davis Cup singles play.
“It was a tricky day with our two players making their debuts in singles and Jack playing impressively and Steve fighting exceptionally hard,” noted U. S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier.
“It could have gone Uzbekistan’s way in the fourth set or it could have gone the USA’s way in the fifth,” Courier said about the Johnson-Istomin match. “There were a lot of twists and turns in that match. Credit obviously goes to Denis and his captain for sticking in there when he could have easily put the flippers on and gone away.”
Johnson said: “This one stings. I‘m not going to lie. It’s a tough lesson to learn. I left it all out there on the court….I don’t think I did anything wrong and I was lucky to get into a fifth set. It’s a tough lesson to learn but credit to him, he played well in the end. He played well at the end to break back a couple of times (in the fifth set) and sometimes you have to say ‘Too good.’”
“That’s the funny thing about tennis – an hour before I was 5-4, 30-0, he was up 6-5, 30-0. I found a way to get back. That’s tennis. It comes down to a matter of points here or there. It’s unfortunate that I was at the losing end of that.”
As the U.S. Davis Cup Team moves into the weekend, it is 25-11 when tied 1-1 after the first day of play.
Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson, both making their Davis Cup doubles debuts, are scheduled to take on Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov in Saturday’s doubles match. Querrey and Johnson reached the men’s doubles semifinals at the US Open this year, upsetting the world No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round. Querrey also reached the mixed doubles final at the US Open with Bethanie Mattek-Sands this year. Querrey and Johnson played together in doubles 11 times this year, including at each of the Grand Slam events. Querrey is currently ranked No. 46 in the world in doubles, while Johnson is ranked No. 67.
Istomin and Dustov have played doubles together in Davis Cup 16 times, holding an 8-8 record, but have never played together on the ATP World Tour. Istomin is currently ranked No. 103 in the world in doubles, while Dustov is ranked No. 633. Istomin holds an 11-12 Davis Cup record in doubles, while Dustov is 8-8.
“There is no doubt we’d like to win the doubles,” Courier said. “We certainly don’t feel like if we lose the doubles we are out of it by any means. We like our guys on Sunday, as well. We know we are going to have to play some hot matches on Sunday no matter what. We will be ready to go. Our doubles guys are coming in razor sharp from New York, feeling good and hopefully Steve will wake up feeling good.”
“Sam and I have played well the last couple of weeks,“ Johnson said. “We know how we are going to play and we know how we play best. It’s going to be fun to go out there with Sam and compete. That’s why you compete in these events to try and get a win for your country.”