ROQUEBRUNE, France — Having beaten Roger Federer’s Switzerland and France on the road, the U.S. Davis Cup team now awaits a more daunting obstacle – defending champion Spain in the semifinals.
John Isner sent the Americans into the next round by winning Sunday’s opening singles match – a 6-3, 7-6 (4) 5-7, 6-3 victory over sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, of France. The U.S. is in the last four of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2008.
“We’ve had the worst draw you could possibly imagine. I’m shocked that we’re still in the Davis Cup this year,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “We’re going to be the underdog in Spain, but we’re going to come with guns blazing.”
Isner, a former Georgia standout, won both his singles in style, dispatching Gilles Simon on Friday and refusing to get rattled against Tsonga. Simon beat 19-year-old Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-3 in Sunday’s last match to make the final score 3-2.
In other quarterfinals, host Czech Republic topped Serbia 4-1 and host Argentina beat Croatia 4-1.
The semifinals are scheduled for September.
Just like four years ago, the Americans beat the French to set up a series against Spain. That time, Spain won 4-1 at home on clay. Whether Rafael Nadal plays for Spain, Courier expects an intense series.
“Anytime you step on the court against Spain they’re tough. They beat us at home last year without Rafa, on hard court, indoors,” he said. “They have been the best team in the world for the past decade.”
But Courier did not expect to beat Switzerland, either. And the Americans romped 5-0.
“At the beginning of the year it was my hope that we could stay in the world group because Switzerland away, you think you’ll probably lose that match,” he said. “Spain, we’ll probably lose it on paper ... but we don’t play them on paper. We’ve got players who are capable, passionate and hungry.”
Isner certainly is.
“People didn’t think we could beat Switzerland. I’m sure there were some people who didn’t think we could beat France,” Isner said.
“The reason I played so well this weekend was because (beating) Roger in the first round was huge for me because prior to that I hadn’t really played that great in Davis Cup. Took a lot of pressure off me.”
The 11th-ranked Isner was quick to praise Courier’s influence.
“He’s definitely helped me. He helped in that first tie against Switzerland,” Isner said. “He never gets too excited. He doesn’t get too mad at us. He’s a very even keel.”