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28 January 2013

Bryans: We treat Davis Cup like a Grand Slam final


Photo: Paul ZimmerBob and Mike Bryan (USA)

Fresh from becoming the most successful doubles team in history, Bob and Mike Bryan have swiftly turned their attentions to Davis Cup as USA begin their latest title challenge against Brazil on home soil in Jacksonville, Florida on 1-3 February.

The American twins won their 13th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday, surpassing John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the most major doubles titles in history, but the duo has no plans to sit back and reflect on their success with a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie to contest a week later. Indeed, they are even entertaining thoughts of winning the international team competition for a second time.

“It would be nice to win another Davis Cup, to have a couple of those once we retire. We’re really focussing on that,” said Mike, who alongside Bob clinched the deciding rubber against Russia to win USA the Davis Cup title in 2007. “We’re really excited about Davis Cup. We have a great draw this year.”

USA defied the odds in 2012 to defeat Switzerland and France away on clay before their dream run ended at the hands of Spain in the semifinals. This year they open their account against Joao Zwetsch’s Brazil, who finally made the World Group after losing in the World Group play-offs for six straight years. Their opponents may be new to the group, not to mention facing the daunting task of competing in the US, but Bob and Mike Bryan are wary of the threat of Brazil’s doubles pair Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.

“It’s going to be an insane challenge,” said Mike. “This team’s going to be good as anyone we’ve played [at the Australian Open], maybe better. They’re going to be ready. They play well in Davis Cup. They’re a passionate country and a passionate team so it’s no easy match.

“We’ve played them a few times before and had really tough matches,” chipped in Bob. “They beat us in a big match at the French [Open] last year. Bruno’s been really hot as of late. I think he’s won like five of the last eight tournaments he’s played and Melo has already won a title this year so they’re going to be a real tough team and we’re going to have to play well.”

USA hasn’t played a home Davis Cup tie since losing to Spain in the 2011 World Group finals. With a potential quarterfinal at home to Serbia on offer if they win, the Americans are going to relish this weekend's tie.

“We’re super excited to play at home,” said Bob. “We’ve played a lot of away matches and we’re a team that really feeds off the home energy. It’s going to be rocking in Jacksonville, it’s going to be so loud. We’ve got a tonne of confidence coming in. We started off the year 10-0, everything’s gone well so far and we’re just going to treat this like another Grand Slam final. That’s what we do for Davis Cup.”

USA last faced Brazil in the first round in 1997, when Jim Courier won both of his singles rubbers to guide the visitors to a 4-1 triumph. The 42-year old team captain will have a strong influence on the outcome again this year, Bob insists, as the Bryans and singles nominees John Isner and Sam Querrey bid to defeat Thomaz Bellucci, Thiago Alves, Melo and Soares.

“He’s a great leader. We all love him, we all respect him,” said Bob. “Tremendous player, a legend. He gets the best out of the players and really coaches and makes a difference. We all enjoy playing for him and we get up from the bench every time we play for him.”

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