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Twinning Combination Lifts U.S. to a 2-1 Lead

Bryan brothers easily secure key doubles point in the Davis Cup elimination match against Slovakia.

September 21, 2003|Bud Collins | Special to The Times

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob, might be the sweetest Davis Cup doubles team the United States has had in a long time.

On Saturday, the twins from Camarillo soured the afternoon for Slovakia and 4,200 bombastic ticket holders in the National Tennis Center.

"We waited a long time for this," said Michael Carl Bryan, the elder (by two minutes) of the 25-year-old twins, whose Cup coming-out party amounted to a seamless 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (5) decision over Dominik Hrbaty and Karol Beck.

"Yeah. Since 1990," said Robert Charles Bryan, the left-hander in the right court. "That's when we saw our first Davis Cup match and decided we wanted to be the U.S. doubles team."

Theirs was the go-ahead point for a 2-1 U.S. lead in the best-of-five weekend series to avoid Davis Cup oblivion. Either the U.S. or Slovakia today will take the plunge to nowhere from the 16-country World Group, thus becoming ineligible to compete for the Cup next year. Andy Roddick, the U.S. Open champion, has a chance to redeem himself if he can clinch against Karol Kucera or Beck in the fourth match. Davis Cup rookie Mardy Fish will face Roddick's opening-day ambusher, Hrbaty.

Slovakia captain Miloslav Mecir said he's undecided between Kucera and Beck, because Kucera faded badly in losing Friday to Fish.

Usually Davis Cup debuts are fraught with jitters, but the Bryans were poised from the start. And now the twins, winners of the French Open this year, look like a long-term answer for a U.S. team that over the last 12 years has depended on a succession of mismatched, dysfunctional doubles teams -- 25 pairings in 35 series, resulting in a 15-20 record.

"It's the sharing that's great," Mike said. "We bond in everything we do."

Said U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe: "I told them the other day, 'You're our doubles team, and I expect you to be for a long time.' "


In the Davis Cup semifinals, Australia took a 2-1 lead over Switzerland and Argentina avoided elimination against Spain.

At Melbourne, Australia, Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs beat Switzerland's Marc Rosset and Roger Federer, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. A singles victory today by Lleyton Hewitt against Federer or Mark Philippoussis against Michel Kratochvil will put Australia in the final.

At Malaga, Spain, Argentina's Agustin Calleri and Lucas Arnold defeated Albert Costa and Alex Corretja, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Spain still leads, 2-1, and can reach the final with a victory today by top-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero, who plays Mariano Zabaleta, or by Carlos Moya, who faces Gaston Gaudio.


Associated Press contributed to this report.

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