By Randy Walker
After missing the Australian Open due to a bone bruise in his right knee, John Isner may not be fully recovered for this week’s U.S. Davis Cup team’s first round match against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.
“I can’t say if I’ll be 100 percent in three or four days,” Isner was quoted in the Greensboro News-Record, his hometown newspaper, in an article published Monday. “I just don’t know. I’ll give it a try this week and see how it goes. I do know I won’t take any chances and risk the rest of the season. If I can play, I’ll play. If I can’t, I’ll wait.”
Isner told the News-Record’s Jeff Mills that a recent MRI showed reduced swelling. Isner also said to the News-Record that doctors had told him that his recovery could take four to six weeks.
Isner, ranked No. 16 in the ATP rankings is joined on the U.S. team by No. 20 ranked Sam Querrey and the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.
Isner, as the U.S. No. 1 player, is set to play against the Brazilian No. 2 player, Thiago Alves, ranked No.141, Friday during the first day of play in the best-of-five match series if Alves is the No. 2 nominated singles player as expected. Querrey, as the U.S. No. 2 player, will play the dangerous Brazilian No. 1 player Thomaz Bellucci, who is ranked No. 36, also on Friday.
If Isner gives it a go, he would be heavily favored to beat Alves in the faster indoor conditions, even if he was not playing at 100 percent. If Querrey is able to beat Bellucci, the U.S. would take a commanding 2-0 lead into Saturday’s doubles match, where the Bryan twins, fresh off winning their all-time men’s record 13th major doubles title, would be heavy favorites to clinch the series by a 3-0 margin by beating likely Brazilian doubles team of Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo, who reached the quarterfinals at last year’s Olympics, beating Isner and Andy Roddick en route. Isner, as the U.S. No. 1, is scheduled to play the Brazilian No. 1, Bellucci, in Sunday’s opening reverse singles match with Querrey and Alves closing out the best-of-five match series.
Should Isner not be able to compete this week, U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier can substitute another singles player just prior to Thursday official Davis Cup draw ceremony. Both Bob and Mike Bryan currently do not have ATP singles rankings, although both have played “dead rubber” singles matches for the U.S. after a match has been clinched. The next highest ranked American player in the ATP singles rankings is Mardy Fish at No. 31, but Fish is still recovering from a heart condition and has not competed since he was forced to withdraw from a fourth-round match with Roger Federer at the U.S. Open in September. The retired Andy Roddick is still ranked at No. 41 and is the next highest ranked player, followed by No. 53 Brian Baker, who is out until late March due to a knee injury suffered at the Australian Open. Ryan Harrison, who played for the U.S. against France in last year’s quarterfinals, is the next highest ranked player at No. 57.
Isner said that missing the Australian Open is not the best omen for his 2013 season.
“I think it has set me back, to be honest,” Isner said to the News-Record. “You want to get off to a good start at the beginning of the year in Australia. And I wasn’t able to do that because of the injury. … It wasn’t great timing, but there’s nothing else I can do. I could’ve loaded up on some anti-inflammatories and given it a shot, but I wasn’t in any shape to go there and try to compete.”
A link to the full article on John Isner in the Greensboro News-Record can be read here: http://www.news-record.com/sports/649095-96/injury-a-new-experience-for