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Bryans Win Thriller, U.S. Advances to Semifinals

May 25, 2008 01:28 PM

Related: Sweden Defeats Argentina 3-0 After Doubles Win

By Jason Brown, USTA.com

Winston, Salem, N.C. – Bob and Mike Bryan won the biggest match of their remarkable Davis Cup careers, defeating Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in four sets, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), and booking their country a trip to the next round.

Earning the United States a berth in the semifinals before 14,453 delirious fans at the sold-out Joel Coliseum in downtown Winston-Salem, Bob and Mike Bryan joyfully embraced at the net.

“This feels damn good,” summed up Bob Bryan.

Taking a hard-earned victory lap around the court as fireworks went off, the U.S. team soaked in the win, looking forward to the celebration later that night.

“It’s the best atmosphere we’ve ever played in front of,” said Mike Bryan.

“We’re had a lot of good Davis Cup wins. Charleston was huge, it was the semifinals. This was a scary match. They were coming. We could feel the heat. There were playing with no pressure after we got up two sets to love, serving huge. It felt so good to finish off that last tiebreaker because anything can happen in the fifth.”

Carrying an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five match series, the U.S. can start looking ahead to their next opponent, Sweden, whom they will meet in the 2007 World Group Semifinals, September 21-23.

Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-ranked doubles team in the world, improved their impressive 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 that they received three years ago 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.”

The match began as a serving exhibition. After Mike Bryan opened with a love game, Lopez equaled his feat with a love service game of his own.

On serve but down 5-6, Verdasco fell behind 0-30. Making things worse Lopez pushed a volley at the net long, handing the Bryans the first set, 7-5.

Racing out to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, Bob Bryan served for the second set at 5-3, and with pinpoint placement, spun a classic lefty serve out wide in the ad court that Lopez couldn’t reach.

The match tightened in the third set. Playing no-pressure tennis, Lopez and Verdasco stormed back and broke Bob Bryan to give them a 4-2 lead. Pulling Spain within a set of tying the Americans, Lopez struck an ace out wide, giving the visitors some hope.

A tense fourth set, the teams stayed on serve and forced a tie-break. A pair of Mike Bryan winners pushed the U.S. lead to 4-1. After Spain won the next two points to pull closer at 4-3, Bob Bryan scooped a dipping forehand and guided it safely into the open court.

On their third match point of the match, the Bryans converted, and were mobbed on the court by their captain and teammates.

On Friday, James Blake let loose in the opener at the Joel Coliseum, defeating Spain’s No. 1 singles player Tommy Robredo in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

A clean sweep for the U.S. on the opening day of play, top singles player Andy Roddick swept past Fernando Verdasco of Spain, winning 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-4.

In the quarterfinal that directly impacted the U.S.-Spain series, Sweden got wins on Friday from Thomas Johansson and Robin Soderling.

On Saturday, the Swedish pair of Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson pulled out a four-set series-clinching victory in the doubles rubber over David Nalbandian and Guillermo Canas to win the best-of-five series, 3-0.

Since the Swedes hosted Argentina in Gothenburg for the quarterfinals, the site of the blockbuster semifinal would most likely be held in the city of Stockholm.

“We feel good. I think going to Sweden is a tough match,” said McEnroe, who improved his record as captain 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 set, 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 lead over Belgium, and advanced through to the semifinals. They will meet either France or 2006 Davis Cup defending champions Russia next. Russia currently leads that match series, 2-1.

The U.S. could host either France or Russia in the final, but would travel to Germany should they reach the 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final.

The reverse singles matches on Easter Sunday will conclude the weekend series.

Roddick is scheduled to play Robredo in the first match, but he is expected to be substituted out in favor of either Bob or Mike Bryan. Since Roddick is nursing a strained hamstring incurred a week ago, U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe can choose to play it safe and rest his ace with the tie already decided.

The final match will pit Blake, the U.S. second singles player, against Spain’s No. 2, Verdasco. Because Verdasco has already played in two matches, Captain Emilio Sanchez could elect to play David Ferrer in his place.

According to Davis Cup rules, if a tie has already been decided, the remainder of the matches will be played in a shortened, best-of-three format.

Versus will air live coverage of Sunday’s reverse singles from Winston-Salem at 2 p.m. Eastern, and The Tennis Channel will follow with a primetime rebroadcast beginning at 8 p.m.

April 62:00 - 6:00 PM ET (Live)VersusSingles
April 68:00 PM ET (Encore)Tennis ChannelSingles
April 72:00 - 3:00 PM ET (Live)VersusDoubles
April 78:00 PM ET (Encore)Tennis ChannelDoubles
April 82:00 - 5:00 PM ET (Live)VersusSingles
April 88:00 PM ET (Encore)Tennis ChannelSingles
*All Times Eastern



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