Published November 20, 2014
Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (Sports Network) - Big John Isner won Friday's second opening singles rubber to pull the United States into a 1-1 tie with host France in a best-of-five Davis Cup quarterfinal showdown.
The 6-foot-9 world No. 11 Isner flattened 13th-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 on the red clay at the beautiful Monte Carlo Country Club.
The massive-serving Isner, who was not broken on Day 1, prevailed in 2 hours, 7 minutes with the help of nine aces and four service breaks.
Isner cruised through the first two set before Simon tried to make it a match in the third. But the American got a key break in the 11th game to grab a 6-5 lead and then served out the rubber in emphatic fashion.
"I'm very, very pleased with how I played today," Isner said following the big win.
Friday's opening rubber predictably saw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga handle event rookie Ryan Harrison to give the French a short-lived 1-0 lead. The world No. 6 Tsonga displayed his firepower and French flair in getting the hosts going with a 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 three-hour victory.
Tsonga tallied a whopping 36 more winners (60-24) than Harrison, won 76 percent of the points when he came to the net, and broke his American counterpart seven times.
Playing in his first live rubber in Davis Cup, Harrison hurt his own cause with 10 double faults on Day 1.
Harrison made his Davis Cup debut in Switzerland in February, winning a dead rubber in the Americans' stunning 5-0 whitewash of a Roger Federer-led Swiss contingent in Fribourg.
The 19-year-old Harrison joined the U.S. squad this week when ninth-seeded Mardy Fish pulled out of the prestigious competition, citing extreme fatigue. France's world No. 14 Gael Monfils also pulled out this week, due to an injury.
Saturday's pivotal doubles encounter in the southeast corner of France will pit the world No. 1 twin Bryan bothers, Bob and Mike, against a quality French duo of Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
Sunday's reverse singles currently call for Isner to battle the former Australian Open runner-up Tsonga and Harrison to take on Simon.
Team USA is captained by former world No. 1 star Jim Courier, while long-time mentor and former world No. 4 Guy Forget is guiding the hosts.
The 32-time champion U.S. is 8-7 all-time versus the nine-time winner France, as the two storied Davis Cup nations first met way back in 1905. The French, however, are 6-1 all-time at home in the series and 5-1 when they meet on clay.
The Americans last won the title in 2007, while France last hoisted the chalice in 2001.
The U.S. topped the French 4-1 in a 2008 quarterfinal in their last meeting.
The United States-France winner will advance to the semifinals to face either reigning champion Spain or Austria.