FRIBOURG, Switzerland — John Isner jolted Roger Federer with his big serve and booming groundstrokes Friday, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to give the United States a 2-0 lead against Switzerland in the first round of the Davis Cup.
The former Georgia standout challenged the Swiss star in long rallies on the indoor clay court, sending Federer to his first loss in Davis Cup singles in eight years and silencing a Swiss crowd unaccustomed to such outcomes.
“I thought he played great,” Federer said. “He played it tough and served great when he had to. I just missed a couple more opportunities than he did and that’s what cost me the match.”
The 26-year-old Isner called this the “biggest win of my career thus far.”
“I’m very proud of it,” he said. “I played those break points down very well. It turned the match a little for me.”
The upset was preceded by a riveting opening singles match, with Mardy Fish outlasting Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7.
“Mardy put forth a great effort,” Isner said. “That was so gutsy. It took a lot of pressure off of me.”
The U.S. can eliminate Switzerland in doubles in the best-of-five series today. Mike Bryan and teenager Ryan Harrison will face Federer and Wawrinka, the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalists.
“It’s been a difficult day for us,” Federer said, adding: “We still have a chance to go through. I’m going to enjoy the challenge.”
Seven other first-round series in the top tier of Davis Cup were contested Friday. Croatia and Japan were tied 1-1, Ahead 2-0 were Serbia (vs. Sweden), Austria (vs. Russia), Argentina (vs. Germany), Spain (vs. Kazakhstan) and Czech Republic (vs. Italy).
U.S. captain Jim Courier had higher praise for the 17th-ranked Isner.
“I don’t know I have ever seen anyone finish a match against Roger Federer the way he did today. That was pretty amazing,” he said.