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By Erik Gudris | Friday, March 4, 2016

 
Bryan Brothers Davis Cup Australia 2016

Bob and Mike Bryan held off a late charge by Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers in five sets to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead over Australia in Davis Cup.

Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve


A vintage performance denied an almost vintage comeback win in what could be a decisive Davis Cup doubles rubber between Australia and the U.S.

Davis Cup: Berdych Wins Five Set Battle

Bob and Mike Bryan took longer than they would have liked, but finally posted their 24th career Davis Cup victory in 28 rubbers over an inspired team of Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers.

“That was a huge match for our team. To go to a fifth set. Thought we just raised our energy,” Bob Bryan said. “Lleyton is a legend. We look up to the guy. Great captain. Great player. Amazing person off the court.”

When Hewitt anounced earlier in the week that he would replace an ailing Nick Kyrgios in the Australian lineup, anticipation ran high that the recently retired two-time major champion might appear in doubles. That came to be when Hewitt was substituted in for Sam Groth who is scheduled to play singles on Saturday.

With Peers playing in his first ever Davis Cup tie, the pressure was on the Australians to get up to speed quickly against the seasoned Bryans. That didn’t happen in the first set as Hewitt allowed himself to get broken in his opening service game.

The Bryans faced trouble midway through the set though when they fell behind 0-40 on their serve at 4-2. Yet Mike Bryan pounded in several strong serves to pull out of danger for 5-2.

Eventually, the Bryans closed out the set 6-3.

The super fast grass courts in Kooyong seemed to favor the Bryans as the second set got underway. With several pinpoint returns and more strong serving, the Bryans looked far superior to their Australian opponents. After saving another break point against them, the Bryans broke the Australians twice to soon take a two sets to love lead.

Had Hewitt made the right decision in putting himself in the match? While some may have openly wondered that, it was the Australian great who finally began connecting for more winners. Hewitt ripped several return winners to give his team 0-40 on Mke Bryan’s serve at 3-2.

Though the Bryans would once again get to deuce, Hewitt would not be denied. Holding yet another break point, Hewitt set up Peers to hit a winnign forehand that gave the Australians their first lead for 4-3.

Yelling his trademark “Come on!” at almost every opportunity, Hewitt got himself and the local crowd fired up. Soon the Australians closed out the set 6-4.

The momentum continued shifiting in the Australian’s favor in the fourth set. Big returns from Hewitt once again put his team ahead 0-40 on Bon Bryan’s serve. Australia broke for 2-1 lead and suddenly a fifth set looked very possible.

With the Bryans looking more tentative, the Australian started winning more of the extended rallies they would lose earlier. Hewitt punched a putaway volley to give his team the set 6-4 and send things into a deciding fifth set.

But the Bryans would enjoy the final plot twist of this doubles battle. The Bryans reset to using earlier tactics that won them the first two sets. By going for more return winners, the Bryans secured an early break for 2-0 after Peers netted a volley.

There was no looking back for the Bryans after they consolidated the break for a 3-0 lead. Now Hewitt could not generate anymore vintage return winners.

Soon the Bryans were up 5-2. Hewitt, now serving to keep his team in the match, tossed in a double fault. That gave the Bryans 15-40 and their first match points.

The Australians saved botn and then another one a few points later before finally holding for 5-3. That only delayed the inevitable however. Mike Bryan in the next game quickly served his way to 40-0.

On their fourth match point, the Bryans putaway an easy smash winner to close out the 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 win.

The U.S. team is now ahead 2-1 leading into Sunday’s reverse singles.

Hewitt enjoyed rousing applause as he walked off court. His decision to play in doubles was vindicated to some extent, but he may not done yet. There is already speculation Hewitt may play in the fifth singles rubber if it comes to that. John Isner is set to face Bernard Tomic followed by Jack Sock facing Sam Groth.

“The tennis was high-level from the beginning. Lleyton really turned up the gas there in the third set. Really returned well. But these guys (Bryans) aren’t the greatest for no reason. They find a way to win these matches time and time again. Their Davis Cup record is unbelivable.”

 

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