Sunday, April 8, 2012

Isner puts U.S. in Davis Cup semis

   Nice job, U.S. Davis Cup team.
   Now comes the hard part.
   The United States, led by surging John Isner, extended its Davis Cup schedule from hell with a 3-2 quarterfinal victory Sunday over host France on clay in Roquebrune.
    The Americans, who upset Roger Federer and host Switzerland on clay in the first round, will play defending champion Spain on -- you guessed it -- clay in -- you guessed it again -- Spain on Sept. 14-16. The Spaniards, playing without ailing Rafael Nadal, defeated visiting Austria 4-1.
   The 6-foot-10 Isner, ranked 11th in the world, continued his outstanding season by beating No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 to put the United States in the semifinals for the first time since 2008.
   “He just played well, and I wasn’t in good shape,” Tsonga said. “John was just better than me, and he played the important points pretty well. When you play like that, serve like that, you can play everywhere, so I was not surprised he played well on clay.”
   France's Gilles Simon then beat 19-year-old Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-3 in a meaningless match.
   Isner, who made his pro debut in 2007 by winning a Futures title in the Sacramento area, also defeated the 13th-ranked Simon in straight sets Friday to pull the United States into a 1-1 tie.
   Former Stanford All-Americans Bob and Mike Bryan gave the United States a 2-1 lead with a straight-set victory over Julien Benneteau, a semifinalist in his SAP Open debut in San Jose in February, and Michael Llodra on Saturday.
   No. 9 Mardy Fish of the United States and No. 14 Gael Monfils of France missed the series with fatigue and an abdominal injury, respectively. Fish is scheduled to play home matches for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis on July 12 and 13.
   "If I play like I have this weekend, I can beat a lot of people," said Isner, who will turn 27 on April 26. "Beating Gilles and beating Jo are two very good wins. If I can keep this level up, I am going to be very hard to beat."
   Isner also beat Federer in the first round of the Davis Cup and top-ranked Novak Djokovic on hardcourt at Indian Wells to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 singles final (before losing to Federer).
   Former Cal star falls -- Top-seeded James Cerretani of Reading, Mass., and John Paul Fruttero, a former Cal All-American from San Jose, lost to Roman Borvanov of Moldova and Denis Zivkovic of Miami 7-5, 6-1 last week in the first round of doubles at the $35,000 Challenger in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
   College streak ends -- Michael Facey of Cameron Park outside Sacramento helped the Montana men end Sacramento State's 24-match Big Sky Conference winning streak dating to 2010.
   Facey beat freshman Sean Kolar of Loomis, another Sacramento suburb, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 at No. 4 singles as the host Grizzlies edged the Hornets 4-3 in a match for sole possession of first place. Montana improved to 13-4 overall and 6-0 in the Big Sky. Sac State dropped to 7-11 and 5-1.  

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