JACKSONVILLE, USA: For the first time in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas career as a tandem, Bob and Mike Bryan were pushed to a fifth set in their 23rd doubles match, which turned out not to be a good thing.
A confident Brazilian duo of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares showed a special touch to win the doubles point 76 (6) 67 (7) 64 36 63 to keep Sunday’s first round play alive. Melo and Suares improved their Davis Cup record together to 5-1.
“There’s no doubt that on paper that they’re a better team than us,” Soares said. “We have a good record against them. We came here today to fight, we know we play well together and we never give up. Today is just a perfect example of how good me and Marcelo can play together.
“To beat those guys you have to be 110 percent and we were 110 percent for five sets and didn’t drop for one second even in strange situations. We kept focused and without any distractions.”
The Brazilians now own a 3-1 advantage over the Bryans, considered by most to be the best doubles team to ever play the game. The Bryans are now 20-3 in Davis Cup action when playing together, and won their record 84th career title -- and record 13th Grand Slam title -- together at the recent Australian Open.
“Hats off to the Brazilians today,” Bob Bryan said. “I thought they served well for pretty much four hours. A lot of high percentage first serves, half volleying well and keep the pressure on for a long time. Obviously, we would’ve liked to have gotten the point for the U.S.”
Both Brazilians came into this weekend having already won a doubles title in 2013. Melo teamed with Spaniard Tommy Robredo to win the Brisbane title. Soares joined with Briton Colin Fleming to score the Auckland trophy.
“This win today ranks No. 1 for me,” Soares said. “The Bryans, the Davis Cup. World Group, their home, its tough to beat that. Maybe later on in our career will have some more big wins, but this one for me is very special, it’s No. 1 for me.”
The first set was tightly contested and neither team offered the opposition a break point opportunity to set up the eventuality of a tiebreaker.
The Bryans appeared to be in control of the tiebreaker when at 6-3 with three set points. The first two set points were on Soares’ serve and were won by the Brazilians with an ace and then a forehand volley winner.
Mike Bryan stepped up to serve at 6-5, but the Americans lost the next two points to Brazil and were now facing set point. With Mello serving, Mike Bryan offered up a backhand error to hand the set to the Brazilians.
The American fans were stunned into silence after anticipating the Bryans would win one of there three set points. The small contingent of Brazilian fans went wild.
The second set also featured no break point opportunities for either team and went on to a tiebreaker. It was in the tiebreaker where the tables turned. This time around the Brazilians were unable to take advantage of four set points and then watched the Bryans win the set on their first break point.
But the second set tiebreaker featured a controversial moment on the Brazilians third set point. They thought they secured the set, believing their ball landed on the baseline. The Americans challenged and the Hawkeye challenge showed the ball was out.
In the third set, the Brazilians finally scored a service break on a second break point in the third game on Mike Bryan’s serve. Melo and Soares held on to their advantage and served out the set on their third set point in the 10th game when a return sailed long.
The fourth set finally presented the Bryans with a service break in the fourth game of the set. On a second break point the Bryans moved ahead 4-2 off of a winning volley and held onto their lead to force the fifth set.
It all unraveled for the Bryans when Mike Bryan was serving at 3-4 in the final set. At 0-40 and facing three break points, Mike stepped up to the service line and proceeded to double fault. It was all over but for the Brazilians to serve it out at 5-3 in the next game.
“We had a great game plan from Jim (Courier) and our coach at home,” Bob Bryan said. “It’s on us to execute it. Had we done that we’d be sitting here drinking champagne. We didn’t get it done. We came here from Australia and gave it our best. All the credit to those guys as they got it done.”
Courier had been saying all week long that the Brazilians were going to be a tough pairing to bypass so he wasn’t taking the doubles point for granted.
“There backs were against the wall, they’re a good team and a team that’s experienced at Davis Cup, and they’ve played Bob and Mike, so you add that up and you know your going to get a good battle from those guys,” Courier said. “They’re not going to just roll over just because there team is down 2-0. They came out with something to prove and played an extremely high level of doubles.”
Brazilian Davis Cup captain Joao Zwetsch is hoping that his team can keep the momentum going in the reverse singles matches on Sunday. But he knows that it’s still an uphill battle.
“We said yesterday we would come here today still fighting hard to be alive on Sunday to play the last two matches,” Zwetsch said. “We’re going to come strong tomorrow and will bring a lot of motivation. We still respect the American team a lot, but I think we’re stronger to come tomorrow and fight as hard as we can.”
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USA captain Jim Courier - 02/02/2013
Bruno Soares (BRA) - 02/02/2013