John Isner and the United States face long time Davis Cup rival Australia, captained by recently retired tennis great Lleyton Hewitt. The long time Davis Cup rivals will play this World Group first round at the historic Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, where the Australian Open was held from 1972-1987. The US features John Isner and Jack Sock in singles, with Bob and Mike Bryan in doubles. For the host Australians, their team is made up of Aussie number one Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth, John Peers, and the playing captain Lleyton Hewitt.
The American Squad
The USA features American numbers one and two John Isner and Jack Sock in singles. In doubles, the Americans have sixteen time doubles Grand Slam champions Bob and Mike Bryan in for the crucial doubles rubber. The United States, captained by Jim Courier, has lost the past two years in the opening round of the World Group to Great Britain. In their last tie in the World Group playoffs, the US beat Uzbekistan 3-1 to secure their spot in the World Group.
American number one John Isner has suffered a difficult start to 2016, making only one quarterfinal so far in 2016. In Auckland, Isner made the quarterfinals where he fell to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut. At the first major of the year, the Australian Open, Isner made the fourth round losing to David Ferrer in straight sets. A few weeks ago in Buenos Aires, Isner fell in the opening round to young Serbian Dusan Lajovic. Most recently, the American lost in the first round of the Rio Open to eventual finalist Guido Pella. Isner is currenty on a three match losing streak, but will be looking to erase that trend this weekend in Kooyong.
Much like Isner, Jack Sock has struggled building much momentum early on in 2016. In his first tournament of the year in Auckland, Sock made it all the way to the finals, before being forced to retire in the final against Roberto Bautista Agut. At the Australian Open, Sock fell in the second round to big hitting Czech Lukas Rosol. In his most recent tournament, Sock also fell in the first round in Rio to Federico Delbonis, putting him on a two-match losing streak going into the tie this weekend.
Another making having a woeful start to 2016 is Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryan brothers, normally extremely consistent, have failed to win a single title this year, despite playing four tournaments already. In Sydney to begin the year, the Bryans fell in the opening round to Jonathan Erlich and Colin Fleming. At the Australian Open, a tournament where Bob and Mike are extremely comfortable, having won the title six times, they lost in the round of sixteen to Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram. A few weeks ago in Memphis, the brothers lost out to Austin Krajicek and Nicholas Monroe. Most recently, the twins fell in the final of Delray Beach to Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin.
The Australian Squad
The Australians feature Aussie number one Bernard Tomic, big serving Sam Groth, doubles specialist John Peers, and recently retired playing captain Lleyton Hewitt. Australia will be captained by Lleyton Hewitt, who due to Nick Kyrgios' viral illness, will be playing the doubles rubber. Hewitt will be the first ever playing captain in Davis Cup history, coming out of retirement for one match this weekend.
Aussie number one Bernard Tomic has had an impressive start to 2016, already making a quarter, a semi, and a final this year. Tomic made the semifinals in Brisbane to start 2016, losing out to eventual champion Milos Raonic. Tomic then retired in the quarterfinals of Sydeny to Teymuraz Gabashvili. At his home major, Tomic made the round of sixteen before falling to eventual finalist Andy Murray. Most recently in Acapulco, Tomic made it all the way to the finals before bowing out to eventaual champion Dominic Thiem.
Big serving Aussie Sam Groth has had an extremely difficult start to 2016, winning only one match this season. Groth fell in the opening round in both Brisbane and Sydeny to young Korean Hyeon Chung and Argentine lefty Federico Delbonis respectively. At the Australian Open, Groth fell in the second round losing to eventual finalist Andy Murray. Most recently, the big serving Aussie lost in the first round of Acapulco to Dmitry Tursunov.
Aussie great and two time grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt will be the first captain to ever play a Davis Cup rubber this weekend in Kooyong. Hewitt will be playing the crucial doubles rubber with John Peers. Hewitt played his farewell tournament at his home slam, the Australian Open, where he made the second round, ending his career at the hands of David Ferrer. Hewitt is captaining his first ever Davis Cup rubber this weekend on the famous grass courts of Kooyong.
What To Expect
With stacked teams on both sides, this tie is guaranteed to be one of the most compelling of the Davis Cup weekend. Both teams are having to deal with struggles in form for most players, so this tie could create some upsets. In the first rubber, Isner opens up a heavy favorite against fellow big server Sam Groth. Expect Isner to win this rubber in straight sets and put the US up 1-0. In the next rubber, Jack Sock faces Bernard Tomic. With Tomic being the only player who's had a good start to 2016, expect Tomic's good form to get Australia the win to level the tie at 1-1. In the always crucial doubles rubber, the Americans have a major advanatage with one of the greatest all time doubles teams in the Bryans. Expect the Bryans to halt Hewitt's doubles return and put the US up 2-1. In the pick of the rubbers, Bernard Tomic goes up againt John Isner. With Tomic's impressive start to 2016 and Isner's dismal one, expect Tomic to pull off the upset and level up the tie at 2-2. In the fifth and deciding rubber, Jack Sock faces Sam Groth. Expect the consistency of Sock to show through and for the US to gain the win to move on to the quarterfinals of the World Group.
Prediction: USA def. Australia 3-2