DAVIS CUP Q&A
Driving To Work, Isner Welcomes Home Davis Cup Tie
by Matt Fitzgerald|
World No. 16 John Isner provided tennis fans with one of the more surprising stories of the year in 2012 through his Davis Cup heroics.
Playing on the road in every tie, and on clay, Isner wore the red, white and blue of his nation proudly, stunning Switzerland’s Roger Federer and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to leading his country through to the semi-finals. Although the United States eventually succumbed to Spain, Isner proved he has the potential to be a perennial threat on any surface.
Now, the Greensboro, N.C. native finally has the opportunity to play a tie on home soil, headlining a strong Team USA squad also featuring fellow Top 20 player Sam Querrey and recent Australian Open doubles champions, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. The Americans face off against Brazil in Jacksonville, Fla., beginning 1 February.
ATPWorldTour.com caught up with Isner during Tuesday’s pre-draw press conference, discussing his passion for team competitions, the importance for home ties to rotate cities and more…
Being a University of Georgia graduate, you’re very familiar with the annual college football game hosted in Jacksonville between your Bulldogs and the Florida Gators. Have you attended the ‘The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party’ before?
I have been to the game. It’s crazy. The stadium is split exactly 50/50 with the tickets, so one side of the stadium is all red and the other side is all blue. It’s a very unique experience and it’s also a pivotal game for both teams. I haven’t been able to recently, as the last four years, I’ve been in Europe playing. That’s a bit unfortunate, but I always catch it on TV.
As a former standout NCAA player, how much do you enjoy the team aspect the Davis Cup offers, an environment you thrived in while playing in Athens, Ga.?
I love playing in a team atmosphere. I’ve always considered myself to be a team guy, even though I’m stuck in an individual sport. So I always enjoy playing for a team. That’s why I played so much basketball growing up as well. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed college so much and I went there all four years, because I didn’t want to leave. Here in Davis Cup, I’ve played some of the best matches of my career. Playing for a team, playing for something bigger than myself, really seems to bring out the best in me.
Given the size of the United States, how important is it that Davis Cup home ties rotate cities to serve different markets, especially those that are looking to increase exposure to tennis?
I think we’ve seen in the past, when we’ve had home ties, they haven’t been in huge markets. We’ve played in Birmingham, in Austin, which was a big one since Andy Roddick was from there. We’ve been to Winston-Salem and now it’s come to Jacksonville. So you don’t see too many ties in huge cities, which I think is better. It seems that you get more support in the smaller markets. Obviously Jacksonville is not a small town, but it’s not as a big as some of the other cities we could have played in.
What are you most looking forward to most about playing your first home tie, having performed so well on the road in 2012 in stadiums that were against you, and now having the chance to feed off a crowd that will be right behind you?
It’s going to be special for me. Every Davis Cup tie I’ve gone to, I’ve hopped on a plane and flown across an ocean. This one, I got in my car and drove three hours, so it’s different. I’m sure on Friday, there will be some nerves, but it’s up to me to fight through those and play my best. I just need to perform like I have in the past during Davis Cup.
Which Davis Cup teammate, past or present, is most likely to…
Show up to practice the latest? Sam Querrey
Pull a prank on you? Sam Querrey
Get lost in a major city? Mike Bryan
Watch a ChickFlick? Ryan Harrison
Order pizza in a foreign country? Ryan Harrison
Audition for American Idol? Sam Querrey
Forget the score in a match? Me!
Become the future USA Davis Cup captain? Andy Roddick