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Bellucci Outlasts Isner; Levels Brazil and U.S. Davis Cup Tie

Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci outlasted John Isner in five sets to help his team draw even with the U.S. in their Davis Cup tie.

By Erik Gudris

John Isner (February 3rd, 2013) -- The U.S and Brazil made it a full afternoon on the final day of their Davis Cup tie that was unexpected due to the surprise loss by the Bryan Brothers in Saturday's doubles match. U.S. No. 1 John Isner was expected to wrap up the tie in the first reverse singles rubber of the day when he took on Thomaz Bellucci.

Though Bellucci had won their only previous meeting in Rome a few years ago, the indoor court and home support inside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena all looked to be in the favor of the big serving American.

It certainly seemed that way early on when Isner jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead while Bellucci couldn't capitalize on six break point chances in the first set. Isner meanwhile blasted 16 winners and broke Bellucci's serve twice to take the set 6-2.

But Bellucci found his way in the second set after he secured an early break of serve to go up 2-1. The Brazilian matched Isner in the winners department at 12 each and that was good enough for Bellucci to tie things at one set all.

Neither man could convert on their lone break points in the fourth set and although Isner hit nearly double the winners as Bellucci, he couldn't stop the set from entering a tiebreak. Bellucci held a set point late in the breaker, but only to watch Isner serve and volley his way out of trouble. Isner wrapped up the third set 7-6 and looked in control.

But the tide swung again as Bellucci, on serve at 5-4 in the fourth set, earned three set points on the American's serve. Isner saved two of them but then sent a forehand into the net to give Bellucci the break and send the match into a deciding set.

Isner's Davis Cup record of being 0-3 in five set matches may have weighed on his mind as his missed another early chance at a break point at 1-all. By now the small, but rowdy contingent of Brazilian fans inside the arena seemed to lift Bellucci's spirits while Isner began looking more and more deflated as the match wore on.

Serving at 3-4, Isner found himself in a mini-marathon game that he couldn't seem to close out despite his big serve. Bellucci missed on five break point chances but, on his sixth, Isner sent a tired backhand deep into the net.

An overjoyed Bellucci stepped up to the line at 5-3 and had no trouble serving out the match to love after Isner sent another errant backhand wide. That sealed the 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 win for Bellucci and leveled the overall tie at 2-all.

"It was an epic win for me," said a happy Bellucci afterwards.

Sam Querrey and Thiago Alves will now face off in the final singles rubber to decide the winner of the tie.

(Photo Credit: Natasha Peterson/Corleve)


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