ULM, GERMANY: Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares kept Brazil’s hopes of remaining in World Group alive at Germany’s expense with their fifth successive doubles victory in the competition.
The Brazilian duo needed just a single break in each set to down debutants Daniel Brands and Martin Emmrich 63 64 64 and claim the third rubber of this Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group play-off, ensuring that Joao Zwetsch’s men return on Sunday needing to win both rubbers to win the tie.
German vice-captain Michael Kohlmann had told Brands and Emmrich to enjoy their first taste of Davis Cup tennis, but while doubles world No. 35 Emmrich quickly settled into his stride, a nervous Brands struggled early on. The 6’5” 26-year-old opened with a double-fault and was broken in just the second game of the match, the Brazilians peppering balls at his feet from the outset.
“We started nervously,” Emmrich admitted. “They didn’t give us any easy points – we had to come up with really good shots. It felt like we still had chances overall, but we didn’t convert them.
“We didn’t expect to win the doubles but we went out with big chests, hoping we could make it, but I think we have to accept that they played to a better level today.”
Melo and Soares, playing together for the first time since their epic five-set win against the Bryan brothers during Brazil’s World Group first round defeat by the United States back in February, were imperious on serve and offered up just a single break point late in the third. Soares, who joined the visitors late after his run to the US Open final last week, certainly showed no signs of lingering jet-lag as he directed matters for the Brazilian duo as Melo dominated at net.
They met some stern resistance from the other end of the court after their early breakthrough, however, not least when Emmrich fought back from 0-40 down on serve early in a second set that drew the best tennis from both teams. Melo’s deft touches around the net had Emmrich scrambling after lost causes throughout, much to the delight of the Ratiopharm Arena crowd.
The German pair kept their noses in front on serve until game nine. Brands again struggled with the second ball, netting one approach before sending a second long and steering a forehand wide on break point. Emmrich ran around the net post to keep set point alive in the next game, but Melo followed up his drop volley with the simplest of put-aways to secure a two-set lead.
A break in the first game of the third set took the sting out of the Germans’ resistance, and while they rallied late on to bring up their sole break point against Soares at 4-3 it was all too late to rescue the rubber. Melo served out the match when Brands skewed a return long to seal victory in one hour 55 minutes.
After two singles defeats on the opening day, Thomaz Bellucci and Rogerio Dutra Silva return on Sunday knowing that only back-to-back victories can knock Germany out of the World Group for just the third time in history.
“Thomaz and Rogerio are feeling good,” Soares said. “We all enjoy the team competition spirit. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, so they’re going to come here tomorrow and give everything they have.
“If Germany wins, they win – but they’ll have to fight.”
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Daniel Brands/Martin Emmrich (GER) - 14/9/13
Captain Carsten Arriens (GER) - 14/09/2013
Bruno Soares (BRA) - 14/09/2013
Captain Joao Zwetsch (BRA) - 14/09/2013
Vice captain Michael Kohlmann (GER) - 14/9/13