AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA: There’s good news and bad news for the United States at the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal against Spain heading into Sunday’s final day of action.
The good news is the Bryan brothers, that’s Bob and Mike, have done their duty. The recent Wimbledon champions – they now have two Wimbledon titles in their collection of 11 Grand Sam titles - kept the Americans hopes alive in this tie. They did so by beating the last-minute pairing of Marcel Granollers, subbing in for Feliciano Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco, 67(3) 64 64 64.
“We were pretty jacked up,” Mike Bryan said. “They played good and they served well when they needed to.”
The top-ranked Bryans gave the crowd the finishing touch they hoped for after the match. When Bob Bryan hit a service winner on their third match point, they dropped their rackets and did their trademark running chest bump way high in the air.
The Bryans came on the court with a 0-2 deficit after Mardy Fish lost in five sets to Feliciano Lopez and Andy Roddick lost to David Ferrer in straight sets on Friday. Now the USA goes into Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers – Fish against Ferrer, Roddick against Lopez – trailing 1-2.
If the capacity crowd at the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas in Austin has any magical powers they’re bound to do whatever they can to urge the American team through to a win over Spain. The arena was filled with boisterous, but respectful fans, and they want nothing more than to see their hometown guy – Andy Roddick – taste sweet success.
“This was the best atmosphere we ever played in and we rode the wave,” Bob Bryan told the crowd of 17,000 after the match. “The most important part of this match was the crowd.”
So what’s the potential bad news? History doesn’t back the USA to pull through this encounter with a victory to move into the Davis Cup semifinals in September.
In terms of the Bryan, they have played in a 0-2 down position before and done admirably well. Together they’ve kept the American hopes of survival going on three occasions: the 2004 final against Spain, the 2006 semifinal against Russia, and the 2009 quarterfinal against Croatia.
In the 2008 semifinal against Spain, Mike Bryan teamed with Mardy Fish to put the American squad on the scoreboard at 1-2, and Bob Bryan achieved a similar feat in the 2010 first round against Serbia with John Isner.
So what’s the problem? Simply, that the Americans never went on to win any of those five ties.
Coming back from 0-2 is an uphill battle, at best. As way of proof, the last time the Americans triumphed at that task was in 1934. The USA was playing Australia in an Inter-Zonal final in London. The player who won the decisive fifth rubber for the United States was Frank Shields, the grandfather of actress-model, Brooke Shields.
“We came here with a job to do to get three points and we have one, so I think the math is pretty easy to do,” US captain Jim Courier said. “I think the match-ups for us are good for tomorrow. I’m probably happier with the match-ups than on Friday. There’s a lot of work ahead.
“History means nothing out here. The only thing that matters is the two guys out there hitting balls tomorrow.”
The Spanish, for their part, were not eager to accept the role of being the favorites heading into Sunday.
“I’m not feeling that we are the favorites now,” said Spanish captain Albert Costa. “I feel like tomorrow we have two very difficult matches. We hope that David will win the first one. I don’t feel we are favorites because still they have the crowd, the court and everything. We are only one point away.”
The Bryans have been solid performers for the United States in Davis Cup, a fact distinguished by their 17-2 record in the competition.
In order to give Lopez a chance to recuperate from his long five-setter against Fish on Friday, the Spanish turned to Granollers. It wasn’t as bold a decision as some might think.
While he had won the only Davis Cup doubles match he’s played prior to this tie, he did rank No. 5 in the world in doubles last year playing with Tommy Robredo. Verdasco was 8-4 in Davis Cup doubles activity in the past.
Initially, it looked as if the Spanish could seal the deal on this quarterfinal as they won the first set in a tiebreak. The Bryans, 6-5 on serve, had one set point at 30-40 on Granollers, but Verdasco hit a scorching forehand crosscourt passing shot to bring the score back to deuce.
In the tiebreak, Bob Bryan lost serve on the first point and Mike Bryan lost serve on the fifth point, which was all the Spaniard’s needed to go ahead by one set.
“Of course, I thought the first point of the match I thought we were able to win the match, and when we won the first set even more because we were one set closer,” Verdasco said. “In tennis you need to fight until the end and I thought today we played well.”
The match turned in the Bryans favour on the first game of the second set. Granollers double faulted at 30-40 to give the Bryans the break, which they hung onto through the set.
“That’s when you’re happy that it’s a three out of five sets match,” Bob Bryan said. “You have a little more time to Boogey Woogy. We knew we could settle down.”
The Bryans put the Americans up a break in the third set by taking advantage of their third break point in the fifth game when Verdasco sailed a shot long. In the final set, the Bryans broke serve at 30-40 in the seventh game when Verdasco hit a backhand volley into the net.
In Sunday’s reverse singles rubbers, Roddick has a 7-1 career edge over Lopez. However, it’s important to note that Lopez came through with the impressive upset at Wimbledon recently, beating Roddick 76(2) 76(2) 64 in the third round.
It was Lopez’s payback for losing to Roddick in the first round at Queen’s Club 76(2) 67(5) 64 a couple of weeks ahead of Wimbledon.
Fish holds a slight 4-3 lead over Ferrer and won their one encounter this season, a 75 62 quarterfinal victory at the Miami tournament.
- Follow on: Live scores
- Watch live at: DavisCup.tv
Marcel Granollers/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) - 09/07/2011
Captain Albert Costa (ESP) - 09/07/2011
Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) - 09/07/2011
Captain Jim Courier (USA) - 09/07/2011