This Day In Sports: Taco Bell Arena in big-time tennis mode

April 7, 2013, 10 years ago today: The Davis Cup quarterfinals wrap up an electric three-day run in Boise with Novak Djokovic’s four-set win over Sam Querrey, giving Serbia a 3-1 victory over the U.S. Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 player, severely twisted his ankle just three games into the match against Querrey but he played through it to send his team to the semifinals that September. Serbia would defeat Canada 3-2 in the semis in Belgrade, Serbia. The Serbians would also host the final in December but fell 3-2 to the Czech Republic.

The tie (as it is called in Davis Cup terminology) turned on Day 2 when the world’s No. 1 doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan, was upset by Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac, in five sets. And what a fifth set it was. With no tiebreaker when matches go the distance in Davis Cup, the Bryans and Zimonjic-Bozoljac played on when they hit 6-6. The Serbians won 15-13 to turn the quarterfinal tie tide.

The hush in Taco Bell Arena was palpable on the final day when Djokovic crumbled to the court just three games into his singles match against Querrey. Djokovic had twisted his right ankle in the middle of a point. As hard as the loud crowd (most of it, anyway) was rooting for Querrey, no one wanted to see the U.S. win over Djokovic by retirement. After a delay of nearly 10 minutes, Djokovic trotted back on the court. “It’s a very strong emotion when you play for your country,” Djokovic said afterward. “That’s why I kept playing.”

He finished off a break of Querrey and won the first set, 7-5. Then, after Querrey ignited the throng with a tiebreaker win in the second set, Djokovic showed why he’s the best, blitzing through the final two sets 6-1, 6-0. “After (the first hour), adrenalin, medications, motivation—all these things together combined—allowed me to play the whole match,” said Djokovic. Per Davis Cup rules the final match of the tie wasn’t played, hence the 3-1 tally.

It’s hard to call the Davis Cup stop in Boise anything but a rousing success. The crowd numbered 8,612 on the final day and totaled 24,715 over the three days. The raucous Serbian fans with their flags and chants were something else, adding to the electricity. “It was a tremendous atmosphere,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “Boise has a lot to be proud of.” Team Serbia echoed the sentiment. “We got to experience the different kind of potatoes—we’re very happy with that,” quipped Djokovic. “Our whereabouts was the hotel and the arena. Regarding those two things it was perfect.”

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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