KAZAN, RUSSIA: Doubles specialists Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares have clinched the doubles rubber from Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov 64 75 62 to put Brazil ahead 2-1.
With the tie locked at one point a piece, it was up to the doubles pairings to determine who would have the upper hand going into the reverse singles on Sunday.
The opening set was going with serve until the visitors got the all-important break in the ninth game to snatch the lead. You could clearly tell just how crucial this rubber was by the way that the lanky Melo reacted to every important winner, pumping his fist in the direction of Brazil's bench.
The second set started with the sides exchanging breaks right away. But when the Brazilians got another one in the 11th game, the hosts were unable to respond, losing the set 57.
Despite the crowd raising the decibel level significantly in the third set, it appeared Tursunov and Kunitsyn didn't have much left in their tanks. Soares and Melo opened the set with a break and never looked back, taking the set 62 to win in straight sets and put Brazil 2-1 up in the tie.
A somewhat expected result as the last time Tursunov and Kunitsyn teamed up on the court was at last year's Kremlin Cup, while the Brazilian duo are known doubles specialists with a well-developed chemistry, a fact pointed out by Kunitsyn after the match: "I think the key was we don't play much doubles together at all. When you get to crucial points and you don't have the experience of playing doubles on a weekly basis, you're obviously going to make some wrong decisions or not take the risk you normally would when you play doubles every week."
Plenty has been said about Team Brazil's unity and high emotional level - a delegation of around 30 (including the team itself, members of the media, 4 four actual fans and the Brazilian ambassador with his wife) didn't sound much quieter than the 2500-deep crowd at the Tennis Academy.
I'm always like that when I play in tournaments, but especially in the Davis Cup. I feel like it's a good thing for me - expressing my emotions helps me focus on the court," said Melo.
So now the hosts have their work cut out for them with two do-or-die reverse singles on Sunday. Youzhny v Bellucci followed by Andreev v Mello is what the draw says, and while it's pretty much certain for Brazil, all four players could theoretically suit up for Russia, so some changes could be made by team captain Shamil Tarpishchev.
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Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo (BRA) - 17/09/2011