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Mike Bryan with teammate Ryan Harrison and Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka at the draw ceremony.
© Siggi Bucher
Mike Bryan is the co-world No. 1 doubles player in the world with his brother Bob, and the twins, 33, are arguably the greatest doubles team in history with 11 Grand Slam men's doubles titles and 76 overall titles together. The two have also been clutch performers for the U.S. Davis Cup Team over the years, and Mike has a 19-3 overall record and is 19-2 in doubles. This week, he is in Fribourg, Switzerland, competing for the U.S. against Roger Federer and the Swiss team without Bob, who could not make the trip due to the birth of his first child.
In the week leading up to and during the tie, Mike will be sharing his thoughts in a blog exclusively for USTA.com on the team's adventures on and off the court. In the second entry, he talks about getting ready to play the tie and the tremendous week the team has had in Fribourg.
It has been a great five days of practice leading up to Friday's singles matches. Each guy has had a bunch of time on court and is ready to go. I have got to tip my hat to Ryan Harrison, who has definitely logged the most hours on the clay. He's a workhorse, and he'll stay on the practice court all day. I've been very impressed with his professionalism and willingness to improve, not to mention he's an absolute class act off court.
Jim Courier has been great at the helm. He's been a natural fit as leader of Team USA. We all have the utmost respect for his on-court achievements, and it's great to see his dedication and immense knowledge of the game first hand. He's a born leader, and he has done a great job making sure everyone is ready to play his best tennis. I’m excited to go to war with him on Saturday!
Having Jay Berger on the squad as the assistant coach is a huge plus. I’ve known Jay since his first days with the USTA back when he coached the national team starting in 1995. He’s always the first guy to practice and the last guy to leave, and he has an unbelievable eye for the game. By now, he knows my game inside and out and always has the perfect drills and right things to say to make me click. Jay played with insane tenacity during his time on tour, and his intensity and work ethic are huge assets to our squad. Jay Berger is one of the awesome people of the tennis world, and I consider him family.
I can’t say enough about the whole support system that is here making sure we’re firing on all cylinders. We have an unbelievable masseur, physio, team doctor, stringer, two security guys, two practice partners, a media coordinator and three USTA event staff. It’s a pretty big ballclub. Everyone plays a vital role, and they are all very important and the best at what they do.
The Swiss have been great hosts, but it’s time to take ‘em down!
I think all the players are excited to be here in Switzerland and playing the first Davis Cup tie of the year. Davis Cup is a special time, and I think we all really enjoy these weeks of working towards a common goal and enjoy the friendships; we all get along really well and have a good time together. We are practicing hard, but we are also having a good laugh, watched the Super Bowl together, played some cards. Everyone is focused, but at the same time we are relaxed off the court and savor the time together.
We were all trying to guess the score of the Super Bowl. It's a little tough being here in Europe because the game didn’t come on until 12:30 a.m. I actually napped a little bit and woke up for the third quarter and watched all the way until the end.
On the court, we are all adjusting to the surface. It's tough to lay a court down a few weeks before a tie. The clay just doesn't settle as well, which leaves the court a bit soft. It is pretty different than a clay court that has been there for years, like Roland Garros, which has a perfect bounce. We're getting our fair share of uneven bounces, but it is equal for both teams, and I think it could favor us. I like to think positively. It can at some times be difficult to find a great rhythm, but I am sure it will continue to get better as the week goes on.
For doubles this weekend, I am playing without Bob; he is not here since he just became a dad. My new niece, Micaela, is so cute, and I love her to death already. In the last 10 years, I have actually only played with one partner other than Bob, and that’s Mardy. We won in five sets in the 2008 Davis Cup semis on outdoor clay in Spain over Lopez and Verdasco.
I am preparing to face Federer and Wawrinka this weekend. If they throw Lammer or Chiudinelli in, we will adjust, but as of now, as we are out there practicing, we are preparing to play their best team. As to who I play with, I think a lot depends on the first day. If Mardy and John have a tough time and play long matches, I could play with Ryan. If John has a tough one and Mardy plays an easy one, I might play with Mardy. There's a possibility I could play with any of the three guys, and I'm lucky to have three great options.
It's definitely tough to play three-out-of-five sets three days in a row, so the Swiss team might elect to rest Roger and Stan if they are up 2-0 after the first day. But from my past experiences in Davis Cup, the doubles point is usually pretty pivotal. I like to think of it as the swing momentum point. It's very tough for one country to win three matches in singles; it’s more likely a team wins two singles and the doubles.
We're all looking forward to what should be a very competitive match!