For the second straight year unheralded James Ward stunned the USA with a stirring comeback in the five set opening day rubber win.
Last January in San Diego, Ward found himself down two sets to one to Sam Querrey before he Brit somehow gained control and win the match, which paced Britain’s win over the U.S.
Yesterday he did it again, this time overcoming a near-insurmoutable lead to American No. 1 John Isner, defeating the giant 67(4), 57, 63, 76(3), 15-13.
“It was long,” said Ward after the 4-hour, 57-minute victory. “The match was just under five hours of high-level tennis. Neither one of us wanted to give in. I came out on the right end at the end of it. It was a very even match. I am happy I won.
“Five hours with John isn’t easy to do. It is more mentally tiring, as well. You need to be there each point. He is serving a lot of aces and unreturnables. You never know when your chance is going to come. My hard work paid off. From the training I have been doing, it was great to last longer than he did.”
The 28-year-old Ward is ranked No. 111. He has just one career Grand Slam win, one career Masters 1000 win and his victory over No. 20 Isner was just the second of his career over a Top 20 player.
Isner slumps to just 5-13 in 5-set matches. He’s lost nine of his last 10 when it goes the distance.
“James played well,” said Isner. “He stayed composed and played a good match. I didn’t. There were certain things I could have done better and it turned on me. I have lost a lot of tough matches before. It’s brutal. I probably won’t sleep tonight. It is awful.”
Ward and team Britain still has some work to do after the Bryans put the Americans on the board with a tight 5-set won over Inglot/J. Murray today.
Tomorrow Andy Murray has a chance to clinch the tie against Isner. If Murray fails, then Ward has a chance to play hero again against Donald Young.
“I am still healthy,” Isner said. “Mentally, I am shaken, but I have to be professional and bring my best on Sunday. Tomorrow I will rest and as Jim (Courier) said, I will let it rip on Sunday.”
Isner and Murray have met four times on the ATP World Tour, with Murray holding a 4-0 record over Isner (2010 Australian Open, 2011 US Open, 2011 Hopman Cup, 2014 Cincinnati). Murray is the fifth Top 5 player that Isner has faced in Davis Cup competition with Isner holding a 1-4 record after upsetting Roger Federer in the 2012 World Group First Round in Switzerland. Isner is competing in his 10th Davis Cup tie and holds an 8-8 record in singles after falling to Ward yesterday in an epic five-set match that became the longest-ever U.S. Davis Cup match at four hours and 57 minutes. Murray is 20-2 in Davis Cup competition after defeating Young yesterday in four sets.
“John is good. He was obviously disappointed last night, but he had a good night of sleep and a good hit on court today before the Bryans,” USA captain Courier said. “He was well-prepared on playing tomorrow and that the Bryans would be likely to win. He should be ready. ”
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