Sunday morning before a partisan crowd at Belgrade Arena John Isner took the second-ranked player in the world, Novak Djokovic to the brink, but came up just a bit short, falling in five sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-4. It was the clinching win for Serbia. Serbia defeated the U.S. 3-2 in the best-of-five first round series and eliminated the Americans.
Isner leveled the match at two sets all and played some very gutsy tennis in a fourth set tie-breaker. In that tie-break Djokovic showed his frustration in not being able to put away the young American, and after he was unable to reach a drop shot he launched the ball deep into the crowd. Following earlier racquet abuse, Djokovic incurred a second code violation that resulted in a point penalty, a two-point swing to Isner.
In the fifth and deciding set Isner who served big all day (24 aces), served up a rare double-fault that led to a Djokovic break.
Isner never gave in and showed tremendous heart throughout the match. Djokovic needed six match points to close out Isner, who hit a forehand into the net on match point to allo Serbia to close out the U.S. What makes Isner's fight even more impressive is that he was playing for the third consecutive day. While Djokovic had Saturday off to rest , Isner played doubles with Bob Bryan as he was called upon to sub in for the ill Mike Bryan. In the three days of Davis Cup play Isner totaled 10 hours and 58 minutes of court time.
On Friday in the series opener, Viktor Troicki spoiled Isner’s U.S. debut, defeating him in four sets, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4.
Playing in the second singles role, Querrey tested Djokovic, the world’s second-ranked player, but fell short, succumbing in four sets, 6-2, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3.
On Saturday, Bob Bryan and Isner defeated Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic, 7-6 (8), 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-3.
And in the other reverse singles match on Sunday, Sam Querrey defeated Viktor Troicki, 7-5, 6-2.
This is the first time since 2005 that the United States has been knocked out in the first round.