2/3/13 3:15 AM | Ricky Dimon
The Bryan Brothers are taken down in five sets by Brazil in first-round Davis Cup action on Saturday. John Isner now gets the nod for Team USA as the host nation tries to finish off the tie.
The first-round Davis Cup tie between the United States and Brazil is headed to at least one live rubber on Sunday afternoon after Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares upset Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Following two straight-set singles setbacks on Friday, the visiting Brazilians needed three hours and 30 minutes to get on the scoreboard.
John Isner and Thomaz Bellucci will now be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they collide in the fourth rubber. Isner won a qualifying match back in 2009 on the hard courts of Auckland, where he survived 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3). They most recently faced each other at the 2010 clay-court Masters event in Rome, with Bellucci prevailing 7-6(7), 7-5.
Bellucci is trying to find his game at the beginning of this season. The 36th-ranked Brazilian lost in the Auckland second round then got blown out by Blaz Kavicic in the Australian Open first round. Woes continued in the form of a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Sam Querrey in the opening rubber on Friday.
Isner has started in similarly slow form, although not entirely the fault of his own. The USA's No. 1 player lost to countryman Ryan Harrison in his Sydney opener then was forced out of Melbourne due to a knee problem. Isner returned on Friday and delivered an inconsistent performance that still saw him past Thiago Alves 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3.
Bellucci is still an impressive 14-8 lifetime in Davis Cup (13-8). Isner's record is not as good, but he has fared well against the toughest competition--including road scalps of Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last season.
Not only will the world No. 16 have the crowd on his side, but home-court advantage also allows him to contest this one on an indoor hard court. It's a surface on which Bellucci admitted on Friday that he could not play his best tennis. If Isner serves well, he should put the United States in the quarterfinals after three competitive sets.
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