Found February 13, 2012 on The Sports Headquarters:

The initial reactions were that it was epic. Some even decided to call it one of the greatest Davis Cup upsets ever. And while it wasn’t quite either of those things, it was definitely something that American tennis desperately needed.

American tennis hit its low point a few weeks ago during the Australian Open when an American failed to reach the fourth round of a Slam for the first time in the Open Era. And things were not expected to get much better here. Mardy Fish has not been playing well recently. Andy Roddick injured his hip at the Australian Open. And the USA was going up against a Switzerland team led by Roger Federer.

Federer is one of those players who, like Bjorn Borg in the past, could basically win Davis Cup ties on his own. He is almost a lock to win two singles matches and is very good in doubles as well. With Nadal and Djokovic not playing for their respective countries this year, many considered Switzerland the favorite to win the Davis Cup this year. And while the USA has been good in Davis Cup historically, their past few outings against other top teams have left much to be desired.

And, of course, the tie was in Switzerland. This meant that not only would the USA be facing a hostile crowd, but that the Swiss team would get their choice of surface to play on. This is where the Swiss made their biggest mistake. They decided to play to their opponents’ weaknesses as opposed to their own strengths. So while Federer is still the world’s best player on fast indoor hard courts, Switzerland decided to play this tie on clay, a surface which no American has actually been anywhere near good on since Andre Agassi.

Everyone expected Federer to win his two singles rubbers. After all, it was Federer (7-1 career against Fish and 2-0 against Isner) and it was on clay. Thus, Mardy Fish had a huge task ahead of him. He had to beat Stanislas Wawrinka on clay just to give the US a chance. Wawrinka had been having troubles recently, but it was nothing compared to Fish’s poor level to start 2012. Fish came out strong and fought though, and eventually prevailed 9-7 in an extended fifth set.

This led us to what, in hindsight, was the most important rubber of the tie. Everyone was looking forward to doubles as the turning point because people expected that Isner could beat Wawrinka and that Fed would win his two rubbers easily. And Federer did not disappoint in the first set. He broke Isner early and was mostly untroubled on his serve, taking the first set 6-4. And that’s when things got interesting.

Big John realized that with his height, the high bounce of the court, and his massive serve that he could give Federer fits. Once he started playing the court with all of his natural advantages, his service games became much easier for him. He is also so tall that his hampered movement didn’t hurt him as much as he got to balls early with his long strides. He got into some of Federer’s service games, got a few breaks, and won a tough tiebreak in the third set to help take the rubber.

After that, it was pretty much over. Federer and Wawrinka probably could have won the doubles, but there was no way that Wawrinka was beating Isner at Isner’s level anyway. This was a tough loss for Federer, as evidenced by some of his post-match comments (even ignoring the rabble-rousing exaggerated translations, Federer was still obviously upset by many things about the tie).

So what does this mean for USA tennis? In Davis Cup, probably not much. They will travel to France for the quarterfinals, where they will probably also play on clay. Isner might be the best American on clay so hopefully he will play that tie even if Roddick is healthy, but it’s still hard to call him anywhere near a favorite on clay. But this tie should at least inspire confidence in Isner moving forward (especially during the clay season) and should hopefully help pull Fish out of his recent slump.

If Isner can become more confident and play more consistently, there are few limits for him. He is probably not a top 5-caliber player, but the top 10 is easily within his reach. With 4 Masters events coming in the next 3 months (5 including Monte Carlo) and with a combined 190 points to defend at those, Isner could definitely be in the top 10 by the time Roland Garros comes around. Hopefully Isner learns from this to be willing to play more on clay, especially at those tournaments which have a higher-bouncing surface. Isner will be seeded at Rome and Madrid (and at Monte Carlo if he plays), so there are serious opportunities for lots of points on clay there. Isner has shown the ability to show up in big matches against top players, like when he took Rafa to 5 sets at the French Open last year. Now he just needs to play at that level with consistency and he could really become a factor in Masters and Slams very quickly.

Follow on Twitter at


Federer: There's no rift with Wawrinka

Roger Federer says he was misunderstood and he did not blame Switzerland teammate Stanislas Wawrinka for their Davis Cup loss to the United States. In comments translated from French, Federer appeared to criticize Wawrinka's performances in the 5-0 first-round whitewash at the weekend. But speaking at a pre-tournament news conference Monday at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament...

ATP Rotterdam: Federer Sets the Record Straight; Del Potro’s Thoughts on His Comeback

By Lisa-Marie Burrows ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam – It has been a busy opening day at the tournament in Rotterdam and there has been as much going on off court as well as on. Juan Martín Del Potro and Roger Federer both participated in packed press conferences during the afternoon where the players shared their thoughts and enthusiasm for the tournament and...

Federer defeats Mahut at ABN Amro

Top-seeded Roger Federer easily beat Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-4 in the first round Wednesday to sail straight into the quarterfinals of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament. Federer's second-round opponent Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a foot injury, giving the Swiss star a place in the last eight. The 16-time Grand Slam winner will face Jarkko Nieminen, who overcame Lukasz Kubot...

Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States clinched a berth in the Davis Cup quarterfinal round with the doubles team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan stunning the Swiss team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave the US an unassailable 3-0 lead to gain victory in the tie.   Federer on the loss: Actually played pretty good considering again it was...

The Weekly Wild Card: February 13

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I had the Swiss beating the Americans. In my preview, I said they would have to beat Federer once and I didn't see it happening. I also thought Wawrinka would win one match, whether it would have been singles, or the doubles match with Federer. He almost came through for the Swiss in the first match, taking perennial American disappointment...

Regional Digest: Capitals protect rights to Fish in marquee player draft

The Capitals protected their rights to Mardy Fish, the top-ranked American male singles player in the world, with the seventh pick in Tuesday's World TeamTennis marquee draft, the team announced.

Roger Federer says there is no rift with Wawrinka

Roger Federer says he was misunderstood and he did not blame Switzerland teammate Stanislas Wawrinka for their Davis Cup loss to the United States.

Federer: No rift with teammate Wawrinka (AP)

Roger Federer says he was misunderstood and does not blame Switzerland teammate Stanislas Wawrinka for their Davis Cup loss to the United States. In comments translated from French, Federer appeared to criticize Wawrinka's performances in the 5-0 first-round loss. Speaking at a pre-tournament news conference at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Federer said Monday he was...

Isner, Fish and Bryan Brothers to Play US Men’s Clay Court Championship

All three members of the United States Davis Cup team who won live rubbers during this weekend’s first round sweep over Switzerland have committed to play the 2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston. The tournament will feature Mardy Fish, John Isner and Mike Bryan April 9-15 at River Oaks Country, one week after the US visits France in the Davis Cup quarterfinals....

Two Days in Rotterdam: A Love Affair With Tennis

It’s Valentine’s Day and this year, I want to tell you the story of how I fell in love with tennis. The ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament is one of those ATP 500 level tournaments that brings in the top tennis talent. Year after year the tournament draw is stacked big name players. This year’s list includes Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, and Feliciano...

Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – They travel the world to cheer on the United States Davis Cup team. You’ve probably noticed them wearing red, white and blue adorned with a net that says ‘USA” on their heads – they are the Netheads. A few of the Netheads attending the USA- Switzerland Davis Cup tie were kind enough to send Tennis Panorama News a few of their personal photos from...
Tennis News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.