MELBOURNE -- Australia and the United States have split honors on day 1 of their Davis Cup tie in Melbourne on Friday, with the USA's John Isner accounting for Sam Groth, while Bernard Tomic was too good for the visiting Jack Sock.
The Australian world No. 20 Tomic staved off a dogged fightback from world No.24 Sock at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club; after initially looking close to wrapping up their rubber in straight sets, the American fought back to clinch the third set, but squandered opportunities which could have helped him even the score in the fourth.
Tomic, seemingly not pushed while on serve on his favored surface, cruised through service games in the first to force a tiebreak, in which he secured with relative ease, taking advantage of a visibly irritated Sock.
The second set was just as easy for the Aussie - he managed to force a break in the seventh game, but the third was a turnaround of fortunes; Sock broke early in the third, making Tomic look lazy in their rallies under the blazing Melbourne sun.
The American looked to further capitalize on a lackadaisical Tomic in the fourth, before the Aussie secured an almost surprising break late in the set as, just one game earlier, the Australian looked like giving up a break of his own.
Tomic then ran away with the set, and eventually the match, winning: 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
The Australian, who before the rubber had not beaten Sock in three attempts, said the win filled him with confidence heading into the "live" fourth rubber against John Isner on Sunday.
"Today was important for me to get some confidence, especially already being 0-1 down in the tie is tough," Tomic said.
"I need to return well (against Isner). I'm going to have my chances, especially on my favored surface."
Meanwhile the American lamented a couple of missed opportunities both late and early in the matchup.
"Definitely in the first set I had a lot of chances, but that's the nature of the sport. I need to take a few things (I've learnt) into Sunday," he said.
Earlier, Sam Groth, who replaced the ill Nick Kyrgios for his rubber against John Isner, was no match against the world No. 11 American, who won in straight sets: 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 50 minutes.
The first set offered punters a tantalizing taste of what the match between two big-serving players could have been, but after Isner secured the first set in a tie break, the American was able to compound the pressure on the Australian.
Apart from a scare in the first set, in which Isner had to save three break points, the world No. 11 was relative unchallenged - particularly in the second and third stanzas.
Isner said he picked up "a lot of momentum" after he saved the three break points and ran away with the first set tiebreak.
"It looks pretty comprehensive but at 0-40 (at one point in the first set), I was essentially facing three sets points there," Isner said during his press conference, "(But) I played a very solid tiebreaker."
"Those early break points were very crucial but I settled down after that. I became a lot more comfortable after that first set; I think I broke the first game of the second set."
Meanwhile Groth, who was only called up to the singles rubber on Thursday, said he failed to take his chance in the first set, and found himself battling from behind against a top-20 player.
"Had I have maybe taken a chance on that 0-40 game early (and broken), then maybe it is a different story," the world No. 77 told the press after the match.
"I felt like after that, he hit that backhand winner that clipped the line in the tiebreak and then his confidence seemed to build."
The first-round Davis Cup tie continues on Saturday in Melbourne, with the doubles match between Aussies Sam Groth and John Peers, and American 16-time doubles Grand Slam winners Bob and Mike Bryan.