RELATED: U.S. Follows Dream Script to TitleRELATED: All-Time Davis Cup Champions
By Jason Brown, USTA.com
Portland, Ore. – California twins Bob and Mike Bryan delivered the biggest win of their career Saturday, winning the series-clinching point for the United States against Russia in the 2007 Davis Cup Final.
“It’s a dream for us to win the final match and have the guys rush and come jump around with us,” said Mike Bryan. “There's nothing like it.”
The most storied nation in Davis Cup history, the Americans captured the Cup for the first time since 1995 when a Pete Sampras-led U.S. team upset Russia at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. Sampras earned three points in that win, including the clinching match over Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
The next generation’s Band of Brothers – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan, with strong contributions from Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri – have played together since the turn of the century and participated in their second World Group Final.
Winning the prestigious international team title for a record 32nd time, four ahead of Australia, and 23 more than Great Britain and France, the U.S. reasserted itself as the team to beat.
“I couldn't be happier for those guys because they've been through it all together,” said U.S. Captain Patrick McEnroe. “We've had a lot of ups and downs, but it feels awesome. It feels absolutely awesome. We've been the ultimate team, and it's just been a blast and it's been an honor to be a part of that.”
A meaningful victory that they had dreamed about for their entire lives, the Bryans earned their 13th victory in a U.S. uniform, and closed out their second tie of the year, having also eliminated Spain in the quarterfinals held in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The 16th time than an American doubles team has clinched a Davis Cup title, the Bryan brothers have quickly established themselves as one of the all-time greatest tandems in the history of the sport.
“I've been nauseous for three days,” said Bob Bryan. “I'm not going to try to hide that my stomach was doing back flips. I had a circus of monkeys in my stomach just playing tambourine in there. I mean, it was a lot of emotion, especially running out for those intros with the crowd going nuts, fireworks, the whole deal. It was tough to stand on two feet without your knees knocking.”
“It's sometimes hard to just play the ball. You know all that's riding on the match. You got guys that you want to win for. But like Andy said, it doesn't matter how we get the three points, it's just putting all the individual goals aside and getting it done as a team.”
At 13-1, the Bryans moved into a tie for third on the all-time U.S. win list, matching Bob Lutz and Stan Smith. On pace to smash John McEnroe and Peter Fleming’s record 14 wins, the Bryans could accomplish that feat as early as next April in the 2008 Davis Cup Quarterfinals.
“We're getting more consistent. We know how to do this now. We know how to win,” said Bob Bryan. “We know what it takes to win a Grand Slam. We're just going to scale back the schedule a little bit and try to peak for Davis Cup weeks. It's the most important times of the year, Davis Cup and Grand Slams. Hopefully we've got a nice six, seven more years on the tour.”
Roddick, the team leader with a sterling singles record of 26-9, achieved another one of his career goals, along with winning the US Open as a 21-year-old in 2003.
“Davis Cup probably doesn't get as much recognition as it should,” said Roddick. “But to have shared the last seven, eight years, it wasn't really a seven , eight year process to try to win the US Open. All of a sudden I was on tour and it happened before it knew it.”
“But this has been a journey. Like Patrick said on court, we've been to some places. When you're just with these guys – and we developed friendships. There's so much that goes into this. Winning the US Open, trying to compete for slams, you're playing for a lot of selfish reasons. To come in here and to share this with these guys and to have developed the friendships and everything that goes along with it, the laughs and the tears, it's just amazing.”
Undefeated in 2007 Davis Cup play over six matches, Roddick carried the team on his broad shoulders during away matches in the Czech Republic and Sweden, relishing the opportunity to close out ties.
Few people experienced a more unique perspective this weekend than Fish, a member of the 2004 team that lost to Spain in Seville, and Blake’s best friend.
A teammate that sacrificed personal goals to move aside during the emergence of Blake as a Top 10 player, Fish demonstrated a tremendous amount of maturity and self-sacrifice for the team, choosing to focus on the common goal.
“Over the years, these guys, when I'm not playing, these guys have made me feel like I'm part of the team,” said Fish. “These guys, all four of the guys, make everybody feel like they're part of the team.”
“I played the last Davis Cup final in Spain. We came up short there. “It really felt like, sitting on the sidelines I was part of it. I share everything that they – I feel everything that they feel and I share everything that they share.
I see Andy, and I've known him for quite some time now and I know how much this means to him and I know how much it means to the Bryans and James and how they've played so many in a row. They've had great health and everybody's been really supportive. To answer your question, they've made me feel like I'm part of the team. And I feel like I'm a player, as well. That's what makes it so special.”
Moved by Fish’s words, both Roddick and Blake quickly reiterated that the Cup run was a team effort, a quest that began in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 2001.
“I want to say, that's kind of what makes the whole team,” said Roddick. “Robby's been the No. 2 guy. Mardy has been the No. 2 guy when James was going through his stuff a couple of years ago and trying to come back. Robby is going to come back strong next year. It's been kind of like a family, to help people come back. For Mardy to come back here and be a practice partner at 25 in the world and 40 in the world is just unheard of.”
“So I think that needs to be acknowledged a little bit more than it has. That's what kind of makes it special, is that we're all here together. It's not just this year we won. It's a process. This is just kind of the final goal.”
Is it too soon to start thinking about next year? After making two trips across the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. will begin its title defense on European soil.
Scheduled to play Austria in Vienna (February 8-10) in the 2008 first round on an indoor clay surface at the Ferry Dusika Hallenstadion, the Americans will savor their 2007 title run, but are ready for new challenges.
“I've kind of stopped looking ahead and feeling like I know what's going to happen,” said Blake. “But I'm ready to put in the hard work and compete with all those guys. Whatever comes, I'll do my best and be happy with the situation that unfolds.”
The 2007 final concludes on Sunday with reverse singles play. Roddick is scheduled to face Mikhail Youzhny of Russia followed by Blake against Dmitry Tursunov. With the series decided, McEnroe might substitute left-hander Bob Bryan to play in place of Roddick.
Sunday’s matches can be seen on the Versus Network starting at 4 pm Eastern Time, with a re-air of all of the day’s play following the live coverage.