Related: Bryans Win Thriller, U.S. Advances to Semifinals in Sweden
By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Winston-Salem, N.C. – With some personal pride at stake on Sunday, the United States and Spain split a pair of competitive dead rubbers.
Bob Bryan’s perfect Davis Cup singles record came to an end, falling to sixth-ranked Tommy Robredo in a shortened best-of-three-set match, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was fun to play some singles,” said Bryan. “There wasn't really a lot of pressure out there for me. I really had nothing to lose. I was just having fun.”
Entering Sunday’s reverse match, Bryan was undefeated in his brief singles career for the U.S., carrying a 2-0 record. With the series decided, Bob or Mike Bryan had the option of playing a singles match. After a call by Mike to Mom and Dad, Bob found out that he had drawn the short end of the stick.
“He (Mike) called my parents, talked to them for like 45 minutes, then he gave me the phone. He's like, ‘They said you're playing,’” laughed Bob Bryan.
“I talked to them. They're like, ‘You got the serve.’ You can hold maybe a little more. I really had no say in the matter – three against one.”
Earning his second point of the quarterfinal series, American James Blake improved his Davis Cup singles record to a sturdy 11-7, defeating Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, 6-3, 7-6 (6).
Winning the best-of-five 2007 World Group Quarterfinal, 4-1, the U.S. can start looking ahead to its next opponent, Sweden, whom they will meet in the semifinals, Sept. 21-23.
“I can't speak for everybody else, but, personally, I expected to come in here and for us to get out of here with a win,” said Andy Roddick. “It's nice that we kind of have a stress-free day on Sunday.”
On Saturday, Bob and Mike Bryan won the biggest match of their remarkable Davis Cup careers, defeating Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in four sets, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5).
A clean sweep for the U.S. on the opening day of play at the Joel Coliseum, Blake let loose and defeated Spain’s No. 1 singles player Robredo in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Then Roddick swept past Verdasco of Spain, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-4.
Before 14,453 delirious fans at the sold-out arena in downtown Winston-Salem, Bob and Mike Bryan joyfully embraced at the net after clinching the series.
“This feels damn good,” summed up Bob Bryan.
The top-ranked doubles team in the world, the Bryan brothers improved their Davis Cup doubles record to a formidable 11-1.
With the win, the Californian twins clinched their third career tie for the U.S. and first since lifting the team to victory twice in 2004 – at the Mohegan Sun Arena against Austria and in Charleston during a sweep of Belarus.
Riding a six-match Davis Cup winning streak that dates back to 2005, the Bryans are just three wins shy of the all-time U.S. mark shared by the great American doubles pair of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming.
By defeating Spain, the U.S. also exorcised the demons of the 2004 Davis Cup Final in Seville, giving the visitors a taste of the reception they received playing on the road.
“I’ve always been really proud of our guys, the way they handled themselves in tough situations with class and professionalism,” said U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe.
“I want to take my hat off to the Spanish team. They obviously were up against it in how well we played – the conditions were difficult for them. I give them a lot of credit for playing hard and playing with class and professionalism. I want to thank the Spanish team for that and for showing sportsmanship, which is what Davis Cup is all about.”
In the quarterfinal that directly impacted the U.S.-Spain series, Sweden got wins on Day 1 from Thomas Johansson and Robin Soderling.
A day later, the Swedish pair of Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson pulled out a four-set, series-clinching victory over David Nalbandian and Guillermo Canas.
Sweden finished the tie in style, defeating Argentina to win the best-of-five series, 4-1.
According to ITF rules, Sweden must announce the venue for the semifinal by May 8. Sweden hosted Argentina in Gothenburg for the quarterfinals, and it could be named the site of the blockbuster semifinal. Another option is the city of Stockholm.
“We feel good. I think going to Sweden is a tough match,” said McEnroe, whose record as captain rose to 11-6. “I think they’ve got some tough decisions to make about what surface to play us on. They’re probably more comfortable on a fast court. Obviously, we showed this weekend that we’re pretty comfortable there, too.
“Every match in Davis Cup has its own challenges and can be tricky in different ways. These guys are dedicated and really into it. I think we’ve got a great chance. We got to go over there and hope after the US Open we’re all good and the guys come off a great US Open, and we’re ready to take it to them in Sweden. There’s still that match to win and hopefully one more.”
Three years ago, in 2004, the U.S. played Sweden in the quarterfinals at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Florida.
The U.S. won that tie, 4-1, behind a pair of singles wins from Andy Roddick, including the clinching reverse singles match on Sunday, a straight-sets, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-0, victory over Bjorkman.
Bob and Mike Bryan were members of that U.S. team. In September, they could potentially play in a rematch against Bjorkman and Johansson. At Delray Beach, the Bryan brothers won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
In the other half of the World Group quarterfinal bracket, Germany gained an insurmountable 3-0 advantage over Belgium and completed the tie, winning 3-2.
Germany will travel to Russia to take on the defending Davis Cup champions in the semifinals.
The nail-biter of the World Group Quarterfinals, Sebastien Grosjean of France sent the series to a deciding fifth rubber with a come-from-behind win over Russia’s Igor Andreev in five sets.
A late substitution for countryman Mikhail Youzhny, Marat Safin then came off the bench to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu and clinch the series for the Russians.
Should they defeat Sweden in late September, the U.S. could either host Russia or travel to Germany for the 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final, to be played Nov. 30-Dec. 2.