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Melo and Soares Hand Bryans Rare Davis Cup Loss

Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares handed Bob and Mike Bryan only their third ever loss in Davis Cup play. The U.S. team still leads Brazil 2-1 heading into tomorrow's reverse singles matches.

By Erik Gudris

Melo and Soares (February 2nd, 2013) -- Bob and Mike Bryan earned yet another first in their illustrative career. But it didn't help them stop a determined Brazilian doubles team from handing them a rare loss in Davis Cup play.

Taking on Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares in the doubles rubber of the U.S versus Brazil tie in Jacksonville, Florida, the Bryans expected a tough battle today having lost to the Brazilian pair twice though the Americans won their last meeting two years ago in Valencia.

Neither team broke serve as a tiebreak was needed to decide the first set. Though the Bryans jumped out to a 5-1 lead, it was the Brazilians who lifted their play to level and then pull ahead of the Bryans. And after Bob Bryan sent a backhand return long, just like that Brazil was up one set to love.

Another tiebreak was needed to decide the second set and this time it was the Brazilians who took control early with a series of fine volleys from both Melo and Soares. On their fourth set point at 6-5, Melo hit what looked like was a winning backhand volley into the far deuce corner. But when the Bryans challenged, Hawk-Eye showed the ball out. That prompted a jubilant skip from both Bryans over to their chair at 6-all that included Bob Bryan yelling a demonstrative "Come on!' directly at Melo and the Brazilian bench.

The Bryans then surged ahead to get their first set point and thanks to a volley winner, they went on to take the breaker 8-6 to the delight of the home crowd while Brazil's coach had words with tournament officials over the Bryans' excessive celebrating.

The party atmosphere inside the arena cooled after Brazil earned the first break points of the afternoon at 1-all in the third set. Bob Bryan sent a smash well long and that put Brazil ahead 2-1 -- a lead that they would hold onto as Soares served out the set 6-4 to give their team a two sets to one advantage.

Now it was time for the Brazilian fans to cheer and wave flags as the majority American crowd were forced to ruminate on the fourth set. Things didn't start out well for the Bryans when at 1-all they were forced to fight off multiple break points against them. They did and soon found their first break point of the match in the next game. The Brazilians survived that, but the Bryans broke Soares in his next service game to go up 4-2. From there, the Bryans held on to serve out the set 6-4.

By reaching a fifth set, the Bryans earned yet another first in their illustrative careers as it was the first time as a team that they had been pushed to five sets in Davis Cup play. The Americans earned a break point chance in the opening game but couldn't convert and they missed out on two more chances midway through the decider. But Brazil didn't squander their own three break points opportunities late in the set as they broke the Bryans to go up 5-3.

Melo's big serve in the next game forced a pair of return errors from the Bryans and that was all it took for his team to close out the 7-6(7), 6-7(7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win.

Despite the tense moments during the second set, all four players exchanged a courteous handshake up at net afterwards.

Brazil still trails the U.S. team 2-1 heading into the reverse singles tomorrow with John Isner taking on Thomaz Bellucci first and then, if necessary, Sam Querrey against Thiago Alves.

(Photo Credit: Getty)


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