Bryan and Fish keep USA alive

Makeshift doubles pair Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish kept defending Davis Cup champions United States alive on Saturday after winning a five-set thriller against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.
The US duo, playing together for the first time after Mike Bryan’s twin brother, and usual partner, Bob pulled out injured, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to send the semi-final into a deciding final day when the reverse singles will be played.
Spain, who have been Davis Cup champions twice, lead the tie 2-1 after world number one Rafael Nadal and fifth-ranked David Ferrer won their opening singles on Friday.
Nadal will face Roddick in Sunday’s first rubber boasting a 3-2 career record against the American.
“It was very close,” said Lopez. “In the fifth, if we’ve had a little more luck things might have gone our way.”
Bryan said he was pleased the way he and Fish had responded to the pressure if playing in the intimidating 22,000-capacity Las Ventas bullring in Madrid.
“The crowd was very loud and it wasn’t easy, but we stayed tough,” said Bryan. The winners of this tie will play either Argentina or Russia in the final on November 21-23. Argentina, who have never won the Davis Cup, were 2-0 ahead after the first day in Buenos Aires.
In the play-offs, where the winners will secure places in the World Group in 2009, Olympic doubles champions Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka came back from a set down to beat Belgium’s Olivier Rochus and Xavier Malisse.
The Swiss duo won 4-6, 7-6 (86), 6-3, 6-3 in Lausanne to give their team an unassailable 3-0 lead. The 6,000 fans at the Centre Incommunal de Glace Malley venue greeted their gold medal pair in a warm half-hour celebration before the rubber got underway.
“The emotions were strong. I had tears in my eyes and couldn’t find the proper words”, Federer said.
Serbia also opened up a 3-0 winning lead over Slovakia in Bratislava.
Viktor Troicki teamed with Nenad Zimonjic, the 2008 Wimbledon doubles champion, to defeat Michal Mertinak and Filip Polasek 7-6 (108), 6-4, 6-7 (79), 7-6 (75).
Troicki, the world 128, came in as a late replacement for Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic.
“I learnt that I would be playing yesterday evening, as Djokovic did not feel completely well,” said Troicki.
“However there was no need to worry as I had practised with Nenad throughout the week and our partnership seemed to click.”
In Bucharest, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes kept India alive in their tie with Romania beating Horia Tecau and Adrian Cruciat 6-4, 7-6 (70), 6-4 to reduce the overall deficit to 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s concluding two singles.
India had been left facing a mountain to climb after Prakash Amritraj and Somdev Devvarman lost Friday’s singles to Victor Crivoi and Victor Hanescu respectively.
Bhupathi and Paes’ success put them on a 21-match winning streak in Davis Cup competition.
Paes said: “I thought we played a solid match. We did enough to win in straight sets. But give credit to the Romanians. In Davis Cup, it’s never easy, especially on clay.” Great Britain’s hopes were left hanging in the balance after Austria won the doubles to take a 2-1 lead into the final day at Wimbledon.
Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle made short work of Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins, racing to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win.
Elsewhere, Israel opened up a 2-1 lead over Peru at Ramat Hasharon after Andy Ram and Harel Levy beat Mauricio Echazu and Matias Silva 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
At Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, the Dutch also led 2-1 thanks to Peter Wessels and Jesse Huta Galung seeing off Jun Woong-Sun and Lee Hyung-Taik 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
In the day’s other two play-offs, Chile took a 2-0 lead into their match with Australia in Antofagasta while Croatia were 2-1 ahead of Brazil in Zadar after Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa defeated Ivo Karlovic and Lovro Zovko 6-7 (37), 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (57), 6-3 to keep the South Americans in the tie.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2008