US square 1-1 with France as Spain lead Austria 2-0
Apr 6, 2012, 22:10 GMT
Monte Carlo - John Isner clawed back a point for the United States after rookie Ryan Harrison was hammered to start the Davis Cup World Group tie against France, with the longtime rivals level 1-1 on Friday after opening-day play.
Isner, 11th on the ATP, brought the weekend back square with his 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 defeat of Gilles Simon after Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had crushed teenaged Harrison 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
'A clay court just gives me more time,' said Isner. 'I'm very pleased with how I played today. I thought I played exceptionally well. Gilles could have won the third set, too, but I managed to make the break.'
Tsonga produced 60 winners to 24 for Harrison, who lost the first set and went down 1-3 on a double-fault in the second. The American double-faulted 10 times and converted on only four of 13 break points, while Tsonga made seven of his own 13 in the three-hour contest at the Monte Carlo country club.
'I missed some easy balls, but I'm happy with my game overall,' said the Frenchman. 'The goal was to win and it is achieved. But the important thing is to qualify. There is still remains some way to go though.'
The US hold a narrow 8-7 lead over the hosts in the series. The last time the US defeated France away was in the 1982 final in Grenoble. The countries are competing in France for the first time in a decade.
In Castellon, David Ferrer won his 13th Davis Cup singles match played in Spain as he took the five-time champion hosts to a 2-0 opening-day lead over Austria.
Nicolas Almagro began the Good Friday on clay with his 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Juergen Melzer, who trashed a racquet at a delicate time in the defeat where he committed 30 unforced errors.
'I'm very happy with my match today, it was one of my best matches in Davis Cup,' said Almagro. The score was easy but the match wasn't. I had to fight for every point and I think I was more focussed than him.'
Number five Ferrer cemented 2-0 for the side which is doing without Rafael Nadal, beating Andreas Heider-Marer 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in less than 90 minutes, breaking seven times.
Ferrer, who turned 30 earlier this week, has now won 13 of his last 14 Davis Cup singles matches. The Spanish are targeting a fourth semi-final in the last five years; Austria have not been to the final four since 1990.
'I wasn't in my best form, but the match was not that demanding,' said Ferrer. 'I got a lot of free points.'
In Prague, a marathon lasting 5:07 ended badly with Serb Janko Tipsarevic having to be held back from belting Radek Stepanek as the irate Czech reportedly made an obscene gesture and refused to shake hands after a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 9-7 loss in which he wasted three match points.
Tomas Berdych had made it look easy in the opening rubber, crushing Serbia's Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. The teams go 1-1 into Saturday doubles.
There was another marathon in Buenos Aires as Marin Cilic took 5:09 to overcome David Nalbandian to give visiting Croatia the early lead 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, in a match blotted by nearly 250 unforced errors.
Juan Del Potro fought off pre-match illness and a third-set nosebleed which required treatment before bringing the hosts level 1-1 as he beat Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1.
The South Americans have lost four Davis Cup finals without ever earning a title while Croatia won in 2005.
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