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07 April 2012

Doubles no trouble for Americans



  • Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Corinne DubreuilBob and Mike Bryan (USA)

ROQUEBRUNE CAP MARTIN, FRANCE: USA always head into the Davis Cup doubles rubber on Saturday with confidence. And it’s no wonder as the No. 1 doubles team in the world – twins Bob and Mike Bryan – are consistently reliable in winning the doubles point for the Yanks.

On Saturday, at the Monte Carlo Country Club in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, the Bryan brothers lived up to their superstar status. They knocked out a superb 64 64 76(4) over the accomplished French pairing of Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra to put USA ahead 2-1 in this Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal tie.

The Bryans played steady and sure tennis. They held onto their serves without ever offering the French a break point opportunity. And they only reeled in 27 winners to 56 for the French, but they also only made six unforced errors in the match. To be fair, the French played a primarily clean match as well, only posting 14 unforced errors.

“We came in today and played a really solid match, especially on our serve,” Mike said. “Not being down a break point on serve especially against a great team on dirt is a great stat with us. It wasn’t flashy, we just played our workmanlike doubles today.”

So, with Saturday in the history books, USA head into Sunday’s reverse matches – Jo-Wilfred Tsonga versus John Isner, followed by Gilles Simon versus Ryan Harrison – with a lead, but still much work to do.

Although the Bryans appeared as if they were calm, cool and collected throughout the two-hour match, Bob took exception to that suggestion. “Davis Cup nerves are always the worst kind of nerves,” he said. “You can’t help but get nervous especially when you’re away.”

That said, the truth is the Bryans record tells a different story. The duo are perfect when on the road in Davis Cup. They are 19-2 overall when playing together in Davis Cup and are now 10-0 in away ties – both their losses came at home and one of those to France at the same stage of the competition in 2008.

And that’s not the end of the impressive statistic as Mike’s won two doubles matches away with Mardy Fish, the most recent in the first round against Switzerland. Bob’s won one away with Isner.

“We’ve played every away tie on dirt and we’re comfortable on clay,” Mike said. “It’s a little easier to focus sometimes when you’re on the road. You kind of just go into a zone and block out the crowd, pull our hats down and focus on our tennis.”

The match started out in the Bryans favor when they were gifted with a service break in the very first game. That came courtesy of a double fault at ad-out by Llodra. They held onto that lead throughout the opening set.

Interestingly, the second set started similarly with the Bryans receiving a service break in the first game. This time it was Benneteau who floundered.

The Benneteau and Llodra pairing finally came alive in the third set, which surprised no one. Llodra is one of the best doubles players in the game with three Grand Slam doubles titles to his credit. And Benneteau is no slouch in the doubles department either.

“We played two lousy games,” Forget said. “It’s like we gave those games away. You play poorly for two minutes and it’s 64 64. The rest of those sets were alright and the third set was fine.”

The crowd lifted with the French duo’s performance in the third set and the chanting, singing and general noise started to be off the charts.

The Bryans, however, did what they do best – delivering the doubles point to give their team an advantage in the tie. However, they don’t by any means feel like they can just sit back and relax.

“Our job is not done yet,” Bob said. “We’re going to sit on the sidelines with our pompoms cheering on John.” 

U.S. captain Jim Courier said that he’s happy to be 2-1 up, but that there’s still a great deal of work to be done before the Americans can reach the semifinals. The winner of this tie will take on the Spain or Austria in the last four.

“The way that John played yesterday will give him confidence and give the team confidence,” said Courier, noting that Isner tied the opening day at 1-1 with a straight-set victory over Gilles Simon. “He’s going to have to come out at that level to beat Jo as Jo’s a fantastic player and he’ll be inspired. We’re looking forward to the battle and we’ll be ready to play both matches tomorrow.”

Despite being 1-2 down, French captain Guy Forget was not throwing in the towel on the possibility of his team venturing forth into this year’s semifinals. “I think so far the best players won and that’s a fact,” he said. “I hope it will stay that way and if it does we will win the last two singles tomorrow and that’s what I’m hoping.”

Follow this tie with live scoring and live streaming:

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Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) - 07/04/2012

Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 07/04/2012

Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra (FRA) - 07/04/2012

Captain Guy Forget (FRA) - 07/04/2012

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    Monte Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune, France

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