The U.S. Davis Cuppers may have come up short in Belgrade on Sunday, but considering the less-than-ideal circumstances — no Andy Roddick, no James Blake and one nasty case of food poisoning — team captain Patrick McEnroe was encouraged by what he saw in his new-look roster.
Following the 3-2 loss at the Beogradska Arena, McEnroe said he took pride “not just in the way they played, but the way they competed, the way they handled a tough situation and comported themselves. That’s what it’s all about — to fight hard, to play well, to represent yourself and your country well. Obviously, we’re disappointed to lose, but I’m probably as energized as I can be with a loss. It’s a new team and I think there’s a lot to look forward to for these guys.”
McEnroe was quick to credit 6-foot-9 John Isner, who, in his Davis Cup debut, was a last-minute doubles fill-in for an ailing Mike Bryan (who was sidelined by a bad plate of chicken curry) and joined Bob Bryan for a heroic 7-6(8), 5-7, 7-6(8), 6-3 downing of Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic/Janko Tipsarevic. And while he was held winless in two singles matches, the former Georgia Bulldog pushed the No.2-ranked Novak Djokovic to the limit in a marathon 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4 loss on Sunday.
“Having played singles and doubles, to come out and play over four hours against Novak away on clay was an incredible effort,” said PMac. “I couldn’t have been prouder of the way he played, the way he stuck with his game plan and just the way he competed. He just doesn’t go away.”
Serbia is now headed to the Davis Cup quarters for the very first time. It’s the first first-round loss for the U.S. since ’05, when Croatia upset the Americans in Carson, Calif.