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Doubles win keeps US hopes alive

September 21, 2008 07:55 IST

The United States kept their Davis Cup hopes alive after Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez on Saturday to reduce the champions' semi-final deficit to 2-1.

Fish and doubles world number one Bryan, who was playing his first game without injured twin Bob in six years, silenced a rowdy crowd inside Madrid's Las Ventas bullring by snuffing out a Spain comeback 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in 3 hours and 16 minutes.

"Mardy made some good moves out there in the end, which kind of saved my butt," said a relieved Bryan, who struggled as the left-handed Spaniards swung big serves out wide to his backhand, racking up 15 aces in total.

The victory repeats the United States doubles comeback from 2-0 behind in Seville four years ago, though US captain Patrick McEnroe will hope the similarities end there since Spain won the next rubber to win their second Davis Cup.

World number eight Andy Roddick must first beat claycourt master and world number one Rafael Nadal on Sunday and forget the controversy of Friday's five-set loss to David Ferrer when he complained that crowd noise at a crucial point swung the match.

"Rafael Nadal worries me a lot more than the crowd and Andy feels the same way," McEnroe told a news conference, seeking to play down the issue.

"This gives us a chance. Come Sunday, in Spain, against a great team, we've got a chance. Andy played an unbelievable game against Ferrer and he deserves another shot against Nadal."


Saturday's makeshift US pair, who had never played together and only began practising a week ago, looked disjointed in losing a scrappy first set in half an hour.

World number 23 Fish started to find his feet in the second, while Verdasco lost his -- netting to give the United States set point before offering Fish an easy volley to draw level.

The right-handed Americans had settled by the third set despite facing a pairing who play together on tour, and in game eight Fish pounced on a Verdasco drive to break and give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

With the US on a roll, Spain were broken again in the opening game of the fourth but in a pivotal eighth game Lopez, celebrating his 27th birthday, split the American duo with a volley to break back and go on to set up a deciding fifth set.

Verdasco and Lopez looked in command but a sweet passing shot from Bryan and a poor volley from Lopez gave the US a break in the fifth game, which they clung on to, finishing with a Fish ace and the Bryan brother's trademark chest bump in celebration.

Their loss raises the stakes in Sunday's clash of the number ones. Nadal will be the clear favourite however the Wimbledon champion may suffer due to energy levels after playing 36 more matches than his rival this year.

"The US Open was two weeks ago and he was tired, so I think he's more tired now," Spain captain Emilio Sanchez said.

In Sunday's other tie, world number five David Ferrer plays Davis Cup newcomer Sam Querrey, ranked 39, who took the opening set against Nadal on Friday before falling in four.

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