I'm sure he's disappointed at the moment but I think John Isner can hold his head high. On paper, he had no chance against Djokovic: inexperience on the big stage, unexpected doubles duty yesterday, worst surface against one of the best. And yet, he pushed Djokovic to five sets and battled through obvious fatigue to the end.
Also on the plus side, one hopes he found a winning strategy for the clay court season. Isner's considerable height affords him particularly wide angles on his shots to the wings. He also hits the ball deep which will keep his opponent running. Maybe the US has found its clay court man - that would be exciting indeed.
On the other hand, Djokovic has to be frustrated despite his win. From his perspective, this match should never have been so close. No doubt, Isner presents some unusual challenges but Djokovic's movement and creativity are so far superior that the match should have been two hours shorter. At least in theory, Djokovic should be a legitimate threat to win the French this year, but not the way he played today.
For the US, it's just wait until next year. They'll be in a play-off in September to stay in the World Group for 2011. The other first round losers will be thrown into the draw pool along with the winners of the zonal tournaments. USA's current high ranking should guarantee them a seed which will protect them from having to face another strong country: Switzerland, for instance.
All Part of My Fantasy
The Indian Wells tournament begins this week and both men and women will be there. If you care to play the brackets ('tis the season, after all):
If you're in it for the season, check out the year-long ATP World Tour Draw Circuit Challenge. In addition to prizes for winners of an individual tournament, cumulative scores for all of the Masters 1000 series tournaments will be compiled. A trip to London for the tour final goes to the winner!
TalkAboutTennis is staging a practice suicide pool which means you can play but they won't be compiling scores - fair enough. Details here.