Bryan Brothers Give U.S. Edge Over Australia
ATPWorldTour.com reviews Saturday's doubles action in Davis Cup World Group first-round ties
AUSTRALIA 1, UNITED STATES 2
Venue: Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Melbourne, AUS (grass - outdoor)
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have given the United States a 2-1 edge over Australia in their first-round Davis Cup tie after a clutch five-set win over Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers in Melbourne.
Making his debut as Davis Cup captain, Hewitt temporarily came out of retirement to play the doubles rubber after replacing an injured Nick Kyrgios in the four-man Aussie squad. Hewitt didn’t disappoint home fans with a spirted returning display – particularly on the backhand wing – and combined with Peers to push the Bryans to the limit.
Coming into the tie without a title in 2016, the Bryans were lacking some of their normal confidence. But Bob produced one of his best returning displays and Mike was sharp at net in the 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 win on grass at the historic Kooyong venue in suburban Melbourne. The American twins improved their stellar Davis Cup record to 24-4 together.
“I just think we did a great job of regrouping,” Bob said. “Credit to Mike, he hit a couple of great returns early in that fifth set.”
The Aussies will turn to World No. 20 Bernard Tomic to keep the tie alive in Sunday's reverse singles. The 23 year old will face American No. 1 John Isner in a Top 20 clash.
POLAND 1, ARGENTINA 2
Venue: Ergo Arena, Gdansk, POL (hard - indoor)
Doubles stalwarts Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot kept Poland's hopes alive for an improbable comeback in their Davis Cup World Group debut, downing Argentina's Carlos Berlocq and Renzo Olivo 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in Gdansk. The Polish pair have been dominant forces over the years for the European nation, with Matkowski improving to 26-8 in doubles rubbers and Kubot extending his perfect record to 8-0. They fired a combined nine aces and denied all four break points faced to prevail after two hours and four minutes.
Bidding to become the first nation to reach the quarter-finals in their World Group debut since Kazakhstan in 2011, Poland, who are without the services of former World No. 14 Jerzy Janowicz, will turn to Michal Przysiezny to force a decisive fifth rubber on Sunday. He will face Argentine No. 1 Leonardo Mayer for the first time. Mayer is riding a 10-match win streak in Davis Cup action.
GERMANY 1, CZECH REPUBLIC 2
Venue: TUI Arena, Hannover, GER (hard - indoor)
Czech Republic took a big step in their quest to notch their first victory over Germany since 1982, with Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek claiming Saturday's doubles rubber 7-6(7), 7-5, 6-4 over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Philipp Petzschner.
"The most important thing is we made a point for our team," said Stepanek. "It's why we came on the court today. It was a tough battle, with a very tough first set. We handled it very well. The German team played at a high standard. We took the momentum and were the better team from then on."
Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil pulled the right strings in subbing Berdych in for Jiri Vesely ahead of the match. The 30 year old improved to 21-2 in doubles play and 16-2 when teaming with Stepanek. They are the most successful doubles tandem in Czech Davis Cup history. The champions in 2012 & '13 will turn to Berdych to seal the victory on Sunday, as he bids to extend an 8-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage over Kohlschreiber.
Germany is vying to reach the quarter-finals for the second time in three years. Kohlschreiber and Petzschner had five opportunities to break, but could not convert, eventually falling after two hours and 43 minutes.
BELGIUM 1, CROATIA 2
Venue: Country Hall du Sart-Tilman, Liege, BEL (clay - indoor)
World Group runners-up last year, Belgium find their backs against the wall in the 2016 first round. Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor needed just one hour and 54 minutes in downing Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday. The victory gives Croatia a 2-1 advantage entering Sunday's reverse singles.
Bemelmans and Goffin had a pair of set points at 5-4 in the first set, but were unable to convert, handing the momentum to the Croats. Dodig and Skugor would hold and proceeded to reel off 14 of the next 19 games to claim victory.
After registering a clutch five-set win on Friday, it will be up to Goffin to extend the tie against Croatian No. 1 Marin Cilic. The Top 20 players are slated to meet for the first time to open play on Sunday, with Cilic bidding to extend his run of Davis Cup singles success, having won 10 of his last 11 matches.