Ace, the U.S. Davis Cup team's mascot, shot t-shirts into the Jacksonville crowd during the opening set. On court, linespeople were too preoccupied dodging the missiles Sam Querrey slammed off the back wall to notice the costumed Eagle’s flight plans.
A commanding Querrey kept linespeople on their toes and Thomaz Bellucci off-balance in delivering an overwhelming 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory to stake the United States to a 1-0 lead in its first-round Davis Cup tie against Brazil.
This initial meeting between the pair was a match of firsts—it was Bellucci’s first World Group match and Querrey’s first Davis Cup match on home soil. Ultimately, Querrey’s vicious serve and punishing forehand gave him the last word in rallies.
The 6'6" American cracked 15 aces, surrendered just two points when landing his first serve (winning 45 of 47), and did not face a break point in the 99-minute match. Bellucci, who was often reduced to lunging at serves that buzzed by or ricocheted off the frame of his racquet, did not get to deuce in any of Querrey’s service games.
Bellucci’s left-handed forehand is a dangerous shot when he’s striking it with authority, but the quicker hard court and Querrey’s ferocious forehand left little response time for the Brazilian to run around his backhand. Bellucci can unload on his favored forehand, but it requires a sizeable backswing.
Rallies were brief through the first seven games when Bellucci blinked, scattering a forehand beyond the baseline to face double break point. When Bellucci spun a double fault nearly a foot beyond the service line, Querrey had the break and a 5-3 lead. Querrey closed the set with a kick serve that provoked a backhand reply to expire into net. The world No. 20 served 71 percent, cracked six aces, and won all 17 points played on his first serve in breezing through the first set in 26 minutes.
Bellucci was left to clear his head while the band blared its rendition of "Sweet Caroline,” but couldn't shake off a crunching inside-out forehand winner from Querrey that gave him an early break point. Another errant backhand from Bellucci gave Querrey the break to open the second set. Querrey quickly consolidated, slamming his eighth ace to hold at love for 2-0.
Bellucci didn't play poorly, but Querrey didn't let him play at all on his serve. Peering at the service box from beneath the brim of his vanilla baseball cap, Querrey strung together three love holds in the next four service games, hammering his 12th ace to hold for 5-3. When Bellucci tried to flatten out his two-hander, he sometimes took the ball too close to his hip, leaving him looking like someone trying to squeeze through a turnstile before the bar slammed shut on him. Querrey held at 15 to take a two-set lead at the one-hour mark.
To his credit, Bellucci never stopped fighting, but when he netted a forehand to drop serve in the opening game of the third set, the outcome seemed inevitable.