Saturday, February 3, 2018

U.S. clinches Davis Cup opener vs. Serbia

   The United States defeated Serbia in the Davis Cup for the first time today.
   Of course, Novak Djokovic missed the series after having minor surgery on his right elbow and probably wouldn't have played anyway.
   Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson topped Nikola Milojevic and Miljan Zekic 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead in Nis, Serbia, in the first round.
   Harrison, who won the French Open last year with Michael Venus of New Zealand, played in the Davis Cup for the first time since 2012.
   Serbia is missing its top three singles players -- No. 13 Djokovic, No. 38 Filip Krajinovic and No. 67 Viktor Troicki. Absent for the United States are its top singles player, No. 8 Jack Sock, and doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan.
   The 39-year-old Bryan twins (Stanford, 1997-98) retired from Davis Cup competition at the beginning of last year. They won a U.S.-record 24 matches and lost five.
   The United States, which won the last of its record 32 Davis Cup titles in 2007, improved to 1-2 against Serbia, which defeated the Americans on clay in Belgrade in 2010 and on hard courts in Boise in 2013. Djokovic won the decisive fourth rubber each time. Serbia reached the final in both years, beating France in 2010 and losing to the Czech Republic in 2013. Both finals were in Belgrade.
   The United States will host either Belgium or Hungary in the quarterfinals on April 6-8 at a site to be announced. Belgium leads that series 2-1 in Liege, Belgium.
   Meanwhile, former Cal All-American Ben McLachlan lost his doubles match for Japan. Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, the 2015 Australian Open champions, defeated McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 7-5 in Morioka, Japan, to give Italy a 2-1 lead.
    McLachlan, a New Zealand native with a Japanese mother, and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany reached the semifinals of the recent Australian Open in their first tournament together.

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