An Unexpected Win. Advantage Serbia.

Davis Cup Boise – Day Two.

Saturday. Doubles. 4-hours, 23-minutes. Serbia wins 7-6, 7-6, 5-7, 4-6, 15-13.

On their opponent’s home soil, Ilija Bozojac and Nenad Zimonjic took-on the most successful doubles pairing in tennis history…and won.

There’s no downplaying the significance of the win. While certainly a pivotal career accomplishment for the emergent Ilija Bozoljac, and yet another top-level win for savvy veteran Nenad Zimonjic; because this is Davis Cup, the victory brings far richer spoils through meaning. It was a victory for their teammates. It was a victory for their country. The win over “Goliath” put their team ahead 2-1, in prime position to likely win the Davis Cup Quarterfinal Tie.

Now, imagine the weight of the loss for Bob and Mike Bryan. Boise, Idaho’s site selection was designed to capitalize on the stregths of Sam Querrey and John Isner. With altitude comes faster conditions, more pop on first serves, shortened points – conditions Sam and John would need to use to their advantage to defeat world #1, Novak Djokovic. Singles and reverse singles would be the greatest challenges, while doubles was a perceived lock for Team USA. Little thought was put into how those conditions would affect the doubles match; yet ultimately, those conditions were pivotal in the result.

Both the Bryans and the Serbs held-serve brilliantly in the first and second sets, resulting in two tie-breaks that left the U.S. in a deep hole. The Bryans then battled back, finally breaking at 5-all in the third, and winning the set on serve. In the fourth, Bob and Mike broke the Serbians at 4-all and captured the set on their next service game. With no tie-break in the fifth, the service battle was on as both sides stepped-up their game. Finally, after over four exhausting hours at elevation, the Bryans were broken at 13-all and Nenad Zimonjic served-out the match for the Serbians.

Intensity doesn’t begin to describe Taco Bell Arena’s atmosphere during that final game. Again, fans of both teams were on their feet chanting, screaming support after every dead ball. Bob and Mike actually put themselves in position to break back, up 40-15…but as you can see in the video (click on the EPA photo), Nenad Zimonjic used laser-precision and punishing serves in the thin air to force deuce and the eventual victory. Sincerely, it’s a game that deserves to be seen in it’s entirety, in tribute to two great teams who put on an impressive display of endurance in a Davis Cup Quarterfinal.

TODAY: In the first match, Novak Djokovic has a chance to clinch the Tie for Serbia against Sam Querrey. Sam won a 5-setter over Viktor Troicki on Friday to even the Tie at 1-all; and after winning both of his Davis Cup matches over Brazil in Jacksonville, we’ve taken to calling him Clutch Querrey. He’s beaten Novak once before, at the Paris Indoors, even after being down 0-6 in the first set. Nole knows Sam is dangerous in these conditions, expect him to be aggressive and focused from ball-up. Can Clutch pull-off the upset? Will the unexpected happen again in Boise?

But remember, should Sam defeat Novak – the burden then falls on the shoulders of John Isner and Viktor Troicki to determine the outcome of the Quarterfinal. Viktor’s already played a tough 5-setter, while on Friday John fell easily to Djokovic in three. Perhaps time on-court will play into John’s advantage…(NOTE: Should Novak seal the deal for Serbia in today’s first match, the second match will be a best-of-three “dead-rubber”).

Davis Cup Quarterfinal play continues today starting at 11:30 MT. Tennis Channel has the coverage. The winner will face either Canada or Italy in September, two teams who have been playing in Vancouver this weekend. In fact, yesterday the Canadians also won their doubles match 15-13 in the fifth to go up 2-1 in the series. Oddly enough, a long-time partner of Nenad Zimonjic, Daniel Nestor was part of the winning Canadian Team.