A Serbian Victory. On One Ankle.

Davis Cup Boise – Day Three

Even hobbled, Novak Djokovic makes winning look easy. With Serbia up 2-1 after Saturday’s epic doubles win over the Bryan Brothers, Novak was fired-up to quickly clinch the Quarterfinal Tie for Serbia. Scheduled for the first reverse-singles match against Sam Querrey, there was little doubt that Nole would win. The question was: “Would the match even be remotely interesting?”

Photo: Chris Butler

At 1-all, on-serve, Querrey up 40-15 in the 3rd game, that question was answered with a resounding “YES,” when Djokovic collapsed to the court after rolling his right ankle during an extended rally. The sprain was bad enough that Novak had to be helped off the court. During the medical time out, wincing in pain as trainers worked on the injury, it appeared that he may retire from the match.

But this is Davis Cup.

He is Novak Djokovic.

Some tape, a pain pellet and anti-inflammatory…and there stood Nole on the baseline, favoring his right ankle, ready to receive serve.

And receive he did, battling back with a bum-wheel to break Querrey and go up 2-1. He would eventually win the set 7-5, drop the second-set in a tie-break, then go on to annihilate Sam 6-1, 6-0 in the third and fourth. Based on the scoreline, I think you can tell when the anti-inflammatory and ibuprofen kicked-in.

Photo: Chris Butler

Sam was rattled. From the moment Djokovic hit the deck, it became clear the free-swinging, nothing-to-lose, whatever-it-takes ‘mojo’ Querrey needed to rise to the occasion and defeat the world #1 had become…pudding. While there were moments of great strategy and point-structure to keep Novak on the move, Sam fed the net countless first serves, sprayed dozens of forehands long and wide, and simply lacked the consistency needed to take-down talent like Novak Djokovic (even playing at 60-percent).

As is common now in Davis Cup Ties, with Serbia’s win in four-sets, the teams decided not to play a meaningless fifth rubber. It was on-court interviews in English and Serbian, then off to celebrate a Quarterfinal road-victory in the City of Trees – Boise, Idaho.

Next up for Team Serbia: Team Canada in the Davis Cup World Group Semifinals this September. Milos Raonic clinched Canada’s Quarterfinal win against Italy with a four-set victory over Andreas Seppi on Sunday.

Next up for Team USA: February’s First Round of the 2014 Davis Cup Championship. Because they made it past Brazil in this year’s First Round, the U.S. retains their position in the World Group for next year, and won’t have to compete in September’s World Group Playoffs.

Meanwhile, in Chaleston, South Carolina – Serena Williams defended her Family Circle Cup title with a (3-6, 6-0, 6-2) win over Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic. Saturday, Serena took-out her big sister in straight sets to make it to the final.

Sunday’s match will best be remembered for the snide exchanges between Serena and Jelena…Serena complaining that Jankovic was playing too fast, Jelena complaining that Williams was playing too slow. During one changeover, after numerous attempts at serve when Serena claimed she wasn’t ready, Jelena asked the chair-umpire how long she needed to wait to serve. Before Kader Nouni could answer, Serena shot back: “Until I’m ready!”

As it turns out, that was the defining moment of the match, igniting Serena’s fuse, sending her on a tear where won she six straight games and 12 of the last 14.

By the way, in Monterrey, Mexico this weekend – the five-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won the final (4-6, 6-2, 6-4) over the top-seed Angelique Kerber. Anastasia’s actually never lost a match in Monterrey. She is now a perfect 15-0 there. Now with four WTA singles titles, three of those championships were earned at the Monterrey Open. Pretty remarkable!

Next up for the guys – Welcome to clay court season! Houston hosts the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship this week, with additional play in Casablanca, Morocco.

Next up for the ladies – The BNP Paribas Katowice Open on clay in Poland.