Boise: Advantage or Neutralizer

The advantage of hosting a Davis Cup Tie goes far deeper than simple home court advantage. Obviously, fan support and emotional momentum favors the team playing on home soil, but so much more plays into the strategy.

With his site selection for this weekend’s Quarterfinal versus Serbia, U.S. Captain Jim Courier was determined to give his team as many advantages as possible…and so we find ourselves in Boise, Idaho.

Potential advantages:

Boise State University's Taco Bell Arena
Boise State University’s Taco Bell Arena

Court surface. Obviously, the U.S. selected hardcourt over clay or grass. John Isner, Sam Querrey and the Bryan Brothers have typically posted their best results on hardcourts. However, four of Novak Djokovic’s six Grand Slam Titles have come on hardcourts, including 2011’s U.S. Open – so in reality, the surface selection is a mere neutralizer.

Location: Boise. In theory, for Jim Courier, a U.S. advantage comes with the altitude (2700-feet above sea-level). The thinking goes – because of thinner, drier air, there is less resistance…the ball will move faster…and that can only benefit John and Sam’s booming first serves. In fact, Nole and Team Serbia have been talking about the potential impact of the altitude since the USTA announced the site selection during Indian Wells.

Novak’s comments from a presser this week in Boise: “It makes a difference…You have to put I think an extra effort in the adjustment on the court. You have to try to serve well. It’s tough to control. You can’t expect maybe too many long points because the ball travels through the air much faster than in normal conditions.”

The Boise River, from the Friendship Bridge, Boise State University
The Boise River, from the Friendship Bridge, Boise State University

Reality check. Davis Cup is the best of five sets. Both teams are playing at an altitude they’re not used to. The thinner, drier air will also have a physical impact on the players. Should John and Sam have difficulty getting those first serves in, the advantage potentially swings back to the Serbians. If these matches go five sets, it could be painful and exhausting just to watch.

So does the Boise selection really give Team USA the edge, or simply a better opportunity against a very strong Serbian Team featuring the #1 player in the world? I can’t wait to find out. This is a big test for the Americans…

Schedule of play (all times local) – Tennis Channel has the coverage:

  • TODAY 1:00p – Isner vs. Djokovic, then Querrey vs. Viktor Troicki
  • SATURDAY 12:30p – Bob and Mike Bryan vs. Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic
  • SUNDAY 11:30a – Querrey vs. Djokovic, then Isner vs. Troicki

You can also follow the live scores here.