By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Ostrava, Czech Republic – The doubles point is always pivotal in Davis Cup competition, wedged between the first day of competition and the reverse singles on Sunday, but rarely has it been of such vital importance to the United States and the Czech Republic as it will be tomorrow.
With the two nations knotted at one point apiece in the best-of-five 2007 World Group First Round, both captains are leaning on their doubles stars to gain an advantage heading into the final day of play.
For the United States, should top-ranked doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan defeat Czechs Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner, it would set up the opportunity for team leader Andy Roddick to play the role of closer in the fourth rubber.
Roddick, a sterling 7-0 in series-clinching Davis Cup matches, is slated to play against top Czech Tomas Berdych in the first match on Sunday’s docket.
The Bryan twins have been on fire of late. In January, they successfully defended their men’s doubles championship at Melbourne Park.
In Davis Cup competition together, the Californian duo have won a career 9 of 10 matches, making them one of the most successful pairs ever.
In 2006, the Bryans won all three of their doubles matches for the United States.
In the first round in La Jolla, they had a one-set lead on Romania before Victor Hanescu was forced to retire, conceding the United States the doubles point. In the quarterfinals against Adrian Garcia and Paul Capdeville of Chile, the Bryans steamrolled their opponents in straight sets. And finally, in the semifinals on clay in Moscow, the Bryans staved off elimination by controlling the overmatched Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny in an hour and a half.
The Bryans became the second set of brothers to ever play on the same U.S. Davis Cup team, joining George and Robert Wrenn. The only other siblings to play Davis Cup for the United States, though on separate teams, are John and current U.S. team captain Patrick McEnroe.
No slouches themselves, Dlouhy and Vizner are former French Open semifinalists with the added incentive of becoming national heroes.
"Yeah, it will make it a little bit tougher,” admitted left-hander Bob Bryan on Thursday at the official draw ceremony.
“These guys have played matches together. A few of our Davis Cup opponents have been two guys that are thrown together. The holes won’t be there as much, but we are playing well. We’re coming in confident. We really respect these guys, so we are not going to take them lightly. We know we have to bring our best stuff.”
VERSUS will broadcast the doubles rubber on Saturday, February 10, with coverage beginning at Noon eastern time. That will be followed by an encore performance on the Tennis Channel, beginning at 8 pm eastern.
Also: Roddick Rolls Over Czech Rookie