SANTIAGO, CHILE: It was looking good for USA to take a 2-0 lead after the first day’s singles in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round against Chile. The visitors were one set away from that advantage.
However, when the last point was played at 7.25pm in the second singles, eight and a half hours after the matches began, the series stood at 1-1. It had been a day of marathon tennis in hot sunny conditions and the hero was Paul Capdeville, playing in his hometown.
The visitors took the early advantage when Andy Roddick scored a 62 46 63 64 result over veteran Nicolas Massu, and then Capdeville scored the win of his life as he came back from two sets to love down to defeat John Isner 67(5) 67(2) 76(3) 76(5) 64 in 4 hours 21 minutes.
“This is my biggest victory,” said Capdeville, his face beaming with pride. “I fought for every point. I was never giving up. I’m so happy for this victory and I’m so happy for the people that came today to watch.”
Even though it was a tight match from the outset one thought Isner’s serve could probably get him to escape with the match. But full credit to Capdeville for the dogged effort he put in. He scrambled around the court from the very start and even when he trailed by two sets he was not getting dejected.
The crowd was working hard to lift Capdeville’s spirits. Isner was remaining calm and wasn’t looking affected by the noise and atmosphere being created, but the benefit was to Capdeville. He was like a jack rabbit.
He took his knocks with the Isner serve (the American slammed down 38 aces and had 24 service winners) and just said too good. He waited to get into rallies and that’s where he seized his chance.
Neither player lost serve till the ninth game of the final set. Isner was serving to go up 5-4 but for the second service game in a row he was facing three break points at 0-40. This time he could not save them and at 30-40 he put an overhead sitter into the net. The crowd erupted. The pressure had got to Isner at that crucial moment.
“The crowd was so important,” added Capdeville. “Everybody was saying, ‘c’mon Paul you can do it’, and I thought in my mind ‘yes I can’. I think the people was so big for me. I’m so happy.”
In the next game Capdeville was floating and he played perfect tennis as Isner sent a forehand long to surrender the match. While the Chilean was on cloud nine, the agony was written all over Isner’s body and face.
“I’m really down, I let the team down,” Isner said. “I didn’t play well. He played better than me. I was winning and let him back in. I feel terrible... just terrible.”
Earlier, Roddick got the Americans off to a solid start with his victory over Massu which lasted 2 hours 49 minutes. The heat certainly sapped some energy but Roddick was way more match fit than Massu, who is still in the very stages of a return to tennis.
The Chilean had been out for close to a year because of various injuries and he said that certainly had something to do with the different levels of play between them. However, that was not the case throughout the match.
Massu said Roddick was too good overall and he respected the fact that the American is such a good player. The Chilean just felt pleased to be out on the court in front of his hometown fans who tried all they could to encourage him.
“I feel good because I playing with Andy and he’s a great player and for me it was unbelievable to play with him and for me to feel like I can play in a good level,” Massu said.
“I don’t know if I going to be Top 10 or Top 20 again but I’m not thinking like this, I’m thinking to coming back to play good guys in important tournaments and that’s going to be nice for me.”
Roddick, meanwhile, said he remained calm throughout the match. Normally crowds in South America are very, very noisy and while this crowd certainly did find its voice and a few musical instruments at times, it was a pretty well mannered group of people.
Roddick, who was playing his first Davis Cup in close to two years, said he was accepting that the crowd would be in support of their player and he had no problem with things.
“I felt pretty calm out there, in fact you know I tend to feel calmer in away ties because you know you have to,” Roddick said. “You know, you wanna go in there with a deaf ear towards anything going on and be a bit calmer.
“The nerves beforehand, the glances at your bench for encouragement, all those little things came back to me. There were various times it felt familiar. It was fun to get out there and battle again.”
Roddick got an early service break in the match and even though Massu leveled things with the second set, one got the sense that Roddick was pretty much in control. Massu doubles faulted to lose serve in the sixth game of the third set. He also lost serve in the fifth game of the fourth set when he led Roddick 40-0. The American then closed the match with an ace.
“As soon as I was able to get my foot in the door in the 0-15, 0-30 games it was a different ball game,” Roddick said. “He has a pretty boring game plan but it was one I knew and I had to just try to execute time after time after time and hope that it would being me more breaks that I brought him.”
The doubles rubber on day two will see the Americans likely taking an important 2-1 lead. The Bryan twins, Bob and Mike, are the best doubles team in the world and have an enviable Davis Cup record. They take on Massu and Jorge Aguilar who are a scratch pairing.
Paul Capdeville (CHI) - 04/03/2011
Nicolas Massu (CHI) - 04/03/2011
Captain Hans Gildemeister (CHI) - 04/03/2011
Andy Roddick (USA) - 04/03/2011
John Isner (USA) - 04/03/2011
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 04/03/2011