Jacksonville, FL – Thomaz Bellucci defeated John Isner on Sunday to force a fifth and deciding rubber in the best-of-five opening-round Davis Cup tie between Brazil and the host United States.
After dropping both opening singles rubbers in Florida on Friday, the resilient Brazilians have fought back with back-to-back wins of their own.
Bellucci came from behind to stun Isner in five sets on Day 3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 6-3, and level the tie at 2-2 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The 3-hour, 29-minute bout featured 22 aces by the 6-foot-9 Isner, who had his serve broken three times and only broke the capable Bellucci on two occasions in the setback. Isner had 82 winners, but countered that with 81 unforced errors.
"For me it's very special," Bellucci said. "Isner is a great player and he was favored today. I'm just very happy today."
The 16th-ranked Isner has now lost three of his last four Davis Cup matches and is 1-3 when playing the third singles rubber for the U.S.
In the final set, Bellucci took advantage of a sixth break point in the eighth game on a backhand error from Isner. Bellucci went on to serve out the match at love when Isner committed another backhand error on the final point in the next game.
Sunday's deciding match currently pits American Sam Querrey against Brazil's Thiago Alves.
On Saturday, Brazil stayed alive when its quality doubles team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares bested the vaunted American tandem of Bob and Mike Bryan in five sets. The Bryans were coming off their men's-record 13th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last week.
Querrey and Isner each recorded straight-set singles victories on Friday to put the United States one win away from the quarterfinals.
The 32-time champion U.S. fell to the powerful Spanish team in the semifinals in last year's Davis Cup action.
The USA-Brazil winner will meet Serbia in the quarters in April.