Monday, April 8, 2013.
The hush in Taco Bell Arena was palpable yesterday when Novak Djokovic crumbled to the court just three games into his reverse singles match against San Querrey. The world’s No. 1 player had twisted his right ankle in the middle of a point as he tried to clinch the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie for Serbia. 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. “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. Querrey had problems of his own, with a pectoral injury in the second set affecting his powerful serve. “Definitely it made a difference in the match,” said Djokovic. “When I saw that he wasn’t going for the serve as much, it made my return game much easier.” Per Davis Cup rules the final match wasn’t played, and Serbia won 3-1 to advance to the semifinals in September.
What now for Djokovic? He heads home today to get an MRI on his ankle. At the post-match press conference he said, “Now one hour, 1½ hours after the match, it doesn’t look good. When it’s swollen, it’s definitely not a good sign.” Home for Djokovic these days is Monte Carlo, which happens to be the site of the next ATP Tour Masters event, starting this Sunday. “I’m going to do everything in my power to return for that tournament,” said Djokovic.
U.S. captain Jim Courier espoused the conventional wisdom Friday evening after his team and Serbia had split the first two singles matches heading into Saturday’s doubles. "At 1-1 when you have the Bryans," he said, "it almost feels a little bit like you have the lead." Didn’t work out that way, as the world’s No. 1 doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan, was stunned in five sets by Serbians Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac. 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.
It’s hard to call the Davis Cup stop in Boise anything but a rousing success. The crowd numbered 8,612 yesterday 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,” Courier said. “Boise has a lot to be proud of.” Despite the disappointment over his loss yesterday, Querrey came away impressed. “The venue was amazing, the city was great,” said Querrey. “I thought everything was perfect.” 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.”
As spring football enters its final week, Boise State continues the process of identifying the up-and-comers at cornerback. But the Broncos now have someone they might be able to count on down the line, as Scout.com reports Brandon Lewis has become the fourth commitment to the 2014 recruiting class. Lewis is a 5-11, 170-pound corner from Elk Grove, CA, who was offered a scholarship after he attended Boise State’s Junior Day. "It was a decision I was ready to make for a while now," he told Scout.com. "Their program is one of the greatest in the country.” Lewis’ high school teammate, defensive tackle Nick Terry, will join the Broncos this summer after signing in February.
These aren’t just scrimmages at Idaho, these are marathons. Coach Paul Petrino wants to get a look at the program inside out, so after 130 plays in the first spring scrimmage a week ago, the Vandals ran off a staggering 170 Saturday. The number of snaps will skew the statistics. The offense scored 10 touchdowns, but the defense had three of its own. There were six fumbles, two returned for TDs. Nevertheless, the Vandals are happy with their running game, as Kris Olugbode rushed 38 times for 204 yards and four touchdowns and Jerrel Brown had 29 carries for 177 yards and three scores.
Tyler Gron has been with the Idaho Steelheads only since January. But he gets honorable mention Most Valuable Player honors from this corner, as he potted two goals last night to give the Steelheads a 5-3 win and a commanding three games-to-one lead over Colorado in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. It was the first game of the series not decided by one goal. Gron set the tone with the first goal of the night and clinched the contest via a tally with 2:39 left in the game. Goalie Tyler Beskorowany, following his masterful shutout of the Eagles in Game 3 Saturday, made 29 saves as Josh Robinson enjoyed another night of well-deserved rest. The Steelheads can advance to the Western Conference semifinals with a win at Colorado in Game 5 tomorrow night.
The Idaho Stampede ended their 2012-13 season with a pair of victories over the weekend, and fittingly, former Boise State stars Coby Karl and Jason Ellis played large parts. Likely playing their final games in Stampede uniforms, Karl combined for 32 points and 14 assists, and Ellis pulled down a combined 23 rebounds in the two triumphs over the L.A. D-Fenders. Both want to keep playing basketball, but the shot at the NBA that the D-League affords them is no longer realistic. So the logical route is to go overseas and earn much bigger money. (Karl played in 24 NBA games from 2007-10 with the Lakers, Warriors and Cavaliers.)
Campus notes from the weekend: the Boise State men’s tennis team grabbed the doubles points Saturday morning but fell to BYU 4-3 in a meeting designated as part of the U.S. Tennis Association’s College MatchDay. The defeat snapped BSU's 28-match home winning streak. The Bronco women’s gymnastics team slipped to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA West Regional in Corvallis and is still seeking its first team trip to nationals. And Boise State senior Jason Chamberlain was named Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year Friday, the third athlete in Bronco history to earn the award. Chamberlain finished 30-2 this season, winning a Pac-12 Championship and taking second at the NCAA Championships at 149 pounds.
This Day In Sports…April 8, 1975:
Baseball’s first black manager, Frank Robinson, makes his debut a winning one. The Cleveland Indians’ player-manager hit a home run in a 7-5 win over the New York Yankees. Robinson would continue the dual role through 1976, ending up with 586 career homers, ninth on the all-time list. As a manager, he’d go on to skipper the Giants and Orioles—and the lame-duck Expos during their final season in Montreal.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)