PARIS – World No. 1 Novak Djokovic steered Serbia to the brink of the Davis Cup quarterfinals Friday, easing past Belgium’s Olivier Rochus on a makeshift court he described as the worst he’s ever encountered.
Australian Open champion Djokovic needed just 1 hour and 39 minutes to beat 32-year-old Rochus 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to give Serbia a 2-0 lead in their World Group first-round tie after Viktor Troicki took five sets to defeat David Goffin.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Djokovic had lambasted the clay court laid out over the parquet floor at the Spiroudome de Charleroi.
“It’s the worst court I have ever played on. It’s very, very dangerous,” raged the world’s top player.
But the International Tennis Federation said that the court was playable, insisting that they had laid 12 temporary clay courts on wood since 2009 without problems.
“It wasn’t easy playing on clay after a long time indoors and coming from Australia quite late,” said Djokovic.
“At the start I had trouble with movement and getting used to the conditions but I managed to play my best tennis when I needed to.”
Troicki battled back from two sets down against Goffin to win 1-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4 as Serbia, the 2010 champion, eyed reaching the World Group quarterfinals for a fourth consecutive year.
Sam Querrey and John Isner powered the 32-time champion United States to a 2-0 lead over Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.
Querrey fired 15 aces to beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the opener.
Isner, who missed the Australian Open with a knee injury, then pounded 32 aces past Thiago Alves in a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory.
With their formidable doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan due up on Saturday the United States looked to be in prime position to advance to face either Belgium or Serbia.