U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier discusses his experience coaching against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the first time. Djokovic defeated John Isner and Sam Querrey in singles matches to lead Serbia to a 3-1 victory in the quarterfinals.
“Novak is such a complete tennis player,” Courier said. “We’ve seen him grow over the years not only game-wise but mentally. He’s got a lot of that positive to draw from over the years from the matches he’s won when he’s been pushed to the brink.
“So [against Querrey] was an example of him drawing on that experience and energy when he had the ankle issue. The reality of the matchup changes. If Novak twists his ankle, he goes from being the absolute best mover in the world to being just one of the great movers on the tour. You take away his ability to maybe slide to the forehand, but nothing else changed. So it’s de minimus, the change, realistically, from a tactical change on our side. So Sam didn’t need to make any changes. He just needed to execute how he was going to execute all along.”
Querrey also suffered an injury, to his right pectoral muscle, and consequently his first-service speed dropped from the around 130 M.P.H. to somewhere between 100-110 M.P.H.
“You take away Sam’s serve, that is a different change, “Courier said. “That would be like stripping Novak of his movement. That’s one of Sam’s two big key weapons. So that was a tough tactical matchup for us in the end. Then you start to see the shift of who has control of the baseline rallies. It goes from being when Sam is serving, Sam has control because he’s starting at the center of the court deciding where the ball is going to go, to all of a sudden Novak has the upper hand and he’s feeling free because he’s starting to run away with the match and he can see the finish line and he’s trying to get there fast. There is a lot of nuance. There are not a lot of holes to pick on Novak. That’s why he’s ranked where he is and won what he has and why he got through today. Experience, shots, and in the end he had more than enough to get through the tape.”