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Bryan brothers give U.S. 2-1 lead in Davis Cup against Australia

March 5, 2016 09:38 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

The Bryan brothers gave the United States a 2-1 lead in its Davis Cup first-round tie on Saturday, outlasting an Australian team given a lift by captain Lleyton Hewitt coming out of retirement to partner Davis Cup debutant John Peers.

The winningest doubles team of the Open era, Mike and Bob Bryan beat the first-time pairing of Hewitt and Peers, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, in two hours and 30 minutes at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Kooyong, Australia.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Bob Bryan said. “Obviously Lleyton being on the court even notched it up a level. You know, when they won the fourth it was pretty darn loud and I just thought we did a great job of regrouping and we even went to a new level that we haven’t even found in a year."

The victory, which saw the Bryans improve to 24-4 all-time in Davis Cup play, leaves the U.S. needing one win from Sunday’s two remaining singles matches to seal the best-of-five contest and book America’s place in July’s quarterfinals.

The U.S. Davis Cup Team holds a 37-2 record when leading 2-1 after Saturday’s play since the World Group format was introduced in 1981 and is 186-29 all-time when it wins the doubles point.

"it’s going to be an exciting day, for sure," U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier said of Day 3.

The Bryan brothers broke once in the opening set and twice in succession in the second to race out to a two-set advantage. Serving at 3-3 in the third frame, the Bryans dropped serve for the first time, saving four break point opportunities before Hewitt and Peers forced their way back into the match.

The fourth set was also decided by a lone break, the Aussies forging ahead in the third game and dropping just three points on serve to force a decider.

The Bryans raced out to a 3-0 lead in the final set. The hosts saved three match points at 3-5, but the brothers served it out to love in the very next game to clinch the pivotal third match of the best-of-five match series.

"I’ve got to credit Mike for stepping up," Bob Bryan said after the match. "He became a new guy in the fifth and hit a couple of great returns to get that early break, which was everything, and we held on tight.”

Sunday’s matches are scheduled to feature each country’s top player – world No. 11 John Isner vs. world No. 20 Bernard Tomic followed by world No. 24 Jack Sock vs. world No. 77 Sam Groth. Hewitt, who announced his retirement at January's Australian Open and is making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, was substituted for Groth in the doubles. Should the tie go to the decisive fifth rubber, Hewitt could potentially replace Groth in the singles.

Isner and Tomic have met once on the ATP World Tour, in 2012 on a hard court in Delray Beach, where Isner won, 6-3, 6-2. Sock and Groth met for the first and only time last year in the Wimbledon first round, with Groth winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“Bernie [Tomic] played awfully well yesterday, so did John [Isner],” U.S. captain Jim Courier said after the Bryans' victory. “So that’s where we’ll start and it looks like it’s going to be [hot] once again, so that could play a part in the match. Hopefully John would I think be a little fresher than Bernie, given he only played three sets, [so that] might be a factor. But it’s going to be exciting. The crowd’s going to be jacked up.”

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. Should the U.S. defeat Australia, it will host the tie in July. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 16-18, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2017.

Tennis Channel will air live coverage on Sunday at 11 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET Saturday).