Six-time Grand Slam champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is in Boise, Idaho, this weekend, as he and team Serbia face off against team USA in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
Simply put, the U.S. has their work cut out for them.
The last time these two teams met was back in 2010 in Belgrade, where Serbia won and went on to win the Davis Cup later that year.
Team USA is looking to reach the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Top singles players for the U.S.—John Isner and Sam Querrey—are a combined 5-4 in March, playing not only on home soil, but also on their best surface, hard court. And worse, they’re lacking in confidence.
Querrey faced Djokovic recently in Indian Wells, losing 6-0, 7-6, but did give Djokovic his only loss during the 2012 fall season in Paris. Isner, on the other hand, pushed Djokovic to five sets the last time they met in a Davis Cup tie and defeated Djokovic in last year’s Indian Wells event, where Djokovic was defending champion.
When playing confidently, Isner can produce a major upset, as last year, he defeated Roger Federer in Switzerland on clay at a Davis Cup tie.
But since the 2012 U.S. Open, Isner has failed to make a decent dent against the top 10. As of this week, Querrey is the highest-ranked American and needs to prove his status by stepping up his game this weekend.
In addition, the crutch for the U.S. is the Bryan Brothers, who almost never lose their doubles rubber. They are coming off an incredible start to the year, winning four titles, including the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
However, Djokovic isn’t looking like his dominating self coming into this tie. He lost to Juan Martin Del Potro in the semifinals at Indian Wells, becoming fatigued in the final set. And more surprisingly, he lost early in Miami to veteran Tommy Haas (citing it wasn’t his day).
The one key player missing from the tie is Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, the No. 10 player in the world. This does favor the U.S., but don’t count No. 2 singles player Viktor Troicki out. He has a winning head-to-head record against Isner and Querrey, defeating both on hard court.
So, will the home crowd boost the level of play for the U.S.? It’s hard to say, as the last U.S. home tie against a tough opponent (2011 in Austin, Texas, against Spain) did not go well for Austin native Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, losing 3-1.
No matter how loud Boise is, Isner and Querrey will definitely need to play better tennis to at least challenge the No. 1 player in the world.
Because both teams are big question marks, look for this tie to go the distance.
Play begins Friday afternoon. Click here for more information.