Thomaz Bellucci takes down John Isner in five sets on Sunday during first-round Davis Cup. Brazil pushes the favored United States to the fifth-rubber brink as a result of Bellucci’s win.
Although Brazil remains a huge underdog against the United States, the visitors are mounting an epic charge during first-round action in Jacksonville, Florida.
One day after Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares stunned Bob and Mike Bryan in five sets to give the Brazilians their first point of the weekend, Thomaz Bellucci upset John Isner 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday afternoon. Bellucci withstood 22 Isner aces before prevailing in three hours and 29 minutes.
Despite recent knee troubles, Isner entered as a considerable favorite–especially after cruising through his opening singles rubber on Friday whereas Bellucci got blown off the court by Sam Querrey. For a while it looked like more of the same would continue. Isner broke right away for a 2-0 lead in the first set and added another break before serving it out at 5-2.
One break also decided the second, but this one went to Bellucci. That set the stage for a seemingly crucial third, which progressed to a tiebreaker after two missed break chances (one for each player). Isner battled back from a mini-break down in the ‘breaker and eventually came up with a perfect half-volley down set point. The 6’9” American finally finished it off at 8-7 with a service winner.
Bellucci, however, was not about to away and end the tie without a fight. The world No. 36 had other ideas, encouraged by an entire Brazilian team that also envisioned a comeback. Bellucci broke late in the fourth to force a decider and struck again for the decisive blow at 4-4 i the fifth. Isner, who had a break opportunity of his own early in the final set, fought off five break points but finally succumbed on the sixth.
“I didn’t play well on Friday,” the winner explained, “but I was trying to be positive. I was staying positive even when I was missing balls. When you play two matches in three days, you feel more comfortable in the second one.
“When I lost the third set I was very frustrated, but at the start of the fourth I was very positive even though I was in some trouble…. I was just trying to fight every point until the end.”
While Bellucci praised the fans and his teammates for pulling him through, Isner had a different opinion on the matter.
“I don’t appreciate their fans at all,” Isner said, putting it bluntly. “I think they are very rude.”
But the world No. 16 made sure to put the blame squarely on himself. “I thought (Bellucci) played pretty well, but it’s on me. I couldn’t quite win the big points. My five-set record is atrocious–simple as that–and it falls 100 percent on me. We’re in a dogfight now and a lot of that rests on my shoulders.”
The dogfight now comes down to Sam Querrey and Thiago Alves.