Mardy Fish

United States’ Mike Bryan, left, and doubles partner Bob Bryan celebrate after beating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 at the Davis Cup quarterfinal tennis match Saturday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

American tennis fans walked away Sunday afternoon disappointed that their nation lost the Davis Cup tie to Spain 3-1.
But thanks to Mike and Bob Bryan, they at least got their money’s worth.

The most successful doubles pair in U.S. Davis Cup history took the Erwin Center by storm Saturday afternoon, turning a match against Spain into the tennis equivalent of a rock concert.

A flying chest bump was the exclamation point of the Bryan Brothers’ 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fernando Verdasco and Marcel Granollers in four sets, the lone win for the Americans this weekend.

The outcome of the match was never really in doubt — after all, Verdasco and Granollers had never even played a doubles match together — but the Bryans took a set to warm up.

“We were pretty jacked up,” said Mike.

Added older brother Bob: “With a best-of-three set match, you have a little more time to boogey-woogey. We had a lot of looks in the first.”

The match-up never favored Spain. With Feliciano Lopez scratching after a tiring Friday match against Mardy Fish, captain Albert Costa turned to Granollers, who was only on the team as Rafael Nadal’s replacement. And Verdasco, while an accomplished singles player, isn’t much of a doubles guy — ranked No. 398 in the world.

So they didn’t have a chance against the Bryans, identical twins who have spent much of their lives together. The first set went to Spain, and that was it. The combination of Bob’s serve and Mike’s return game proved devastating, and the two just got better as the match went on.

“We were pretty stingy on our serve,” Mike said. “We were pretty confident up the break. Had a couple of crazy, long volleys.”

The highlight of the match was a play in the final set in which the twins both went up for the same overhead attempt, only to crash racquets. The ball still got over the net, and the crowd went wild.

“I think Bob hit it,” Mike said. “But I crushed his racquet.”

Throughout the match, opposite sides of the Erwin Center engaged in pre- and post-point chants, the most common of which was a “Bob! Mike!” cheer, similar to UT basketball games when one part of the arena yells “Texas!” and the other responds “Fight!”

The win renewed hope and drew the U.S. closer to Spain, 2-1. After the match, Costa expressed concern that it was enough to change the tide of the weekend’s momentum.

“I’m not feeling like we are the favorites,” he said.

Of course, Spain’s David Ferrer shot down any hopes America had at a comeback with his four-set victory over Mardy Fish on Sunday, making the Bryans’ win on Saturday the only positive happening of the quarterfinals.

“We love [the] Davis Cup, it’s a huge part of our career,” Bob said. “Some of our best memories have come from Davis Cup.”

Printed on 07/11/2011 as: Bryans put on show for United States: Doubles pair gives crowd something to cheer about during frustrating week

Spain’s team celebrates by tossing David Ferrer, who defeated Mardy Fish of the United States, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) during a Davis Cup tennis quarterfinal match Sunday. Spain won 3-1.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

David Ferrer lost just one set all weekend. America had no chance.

The Spaniard embarrassed Austinite Andy Roddick on Friday in straight sets, then eliminated Mardy Fish and Team USA on Sunday, winning 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) to give Spain a final 3-1 win over the U.S. in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Ferrer, the No. 6 player in the world, flummoxed Fish time and time again. He was a human backboard, sitting on the far end of the court and returning everything hit his way.

“He’s very good from the baseline,” Fish said after the match. “He’s one of the best movers in the world. That’s how he makes his living.”

It looked as if Ferrer would make it a short afternoon for the announced 16,000 in attendance at the Frank Erwin Center, making quick work of Fish in the first two sets. But the American battled back to win the third set 7-5 and put some pressure on Ferrer.

“There was a lot of tension in the match,” Ferrer said.

Fish had his chances. He led 5-3 in the first set before committing 20 unforced errors — his backhand shot seemed magnetically drawn to the net — and allowing Ferrer to break his serve twice. He lost the second set on a tiebreaker, 7-3. The fourth could have gone Fish’s way too, but Ferrer outlasted him on another tiebreaker.

“He just kind of came up with one or two better shots than I did,” Fish said.

Considering how successful Ferrer has been in his career slapping shots back and forth from the baseline, Fish and U.S. Captain Jim Courier decided to turn to a more aggressive approach in the final sets, which yielded better results.

“We wanted to put a lot of pressure on him [at the net],” Fish said. “I wanted to utilize my volleys a little bit, try to strike through the court low and hard.”

The change managed to frustrate Ferrer a bit — he was issued a warning after crushing a ball into the mezzanine — but it wasn’t enough.

“There’s a reason he’s No. 6 in the world,” Fish said.

That’s a startling fact for the other national powers in men’s tennis, because Ferrer isn’t even the best singles player in Spain. That honor belongs to the world’s No. 2, Rafael Nadal, who was a late Davis Cup scratch.

“Spain is probably the deepest nation out there in men’s tennis. That’s a great advantage to have, no doubt about it,” Courier said.

The Americans had advantages as well. Fish and Roddick, the No. 8 and No. 10 players in the world, respectively, are no scrubs. And the pro-USA crowd at the Erwin Center was louder than it is for most basketball games.

“The crowd was incredible,” Fish said. “It’s the loudest Davis Cup I’ve ever been a part of.”
Had Fish beaten Ferrer, Roddick would have played Feliciano Lopez (who beat Fish in Friday’s first match) in the decisive rubber match.

“I badly wanted to get to the point where we could get Andy out there playing for the fifth match,” Fish said. “That’s the hardest part for me, knowing how much he wanted the Davis Cup to be here in Austin. It would have been a great ending for the tie here, him playing in front of his home fans.”

It didn’t happen. David Ferrer was just too good.

Printed on 07/11/2011 as: Davis Cup Defeat

Andy Roddick practices Wednesday at the Frank Erwin Center. Roddick will play Spain’s David Ferrer on Friday.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Mardy Fish will be the No. 1 singles player for the U.S. in this weekend’s Davis Cup, team captain Jim Courier announced during Friday’s draw.

Fish, the No. 8 player in the world, will face off against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez in Friday’s ‘A’ match.

“Mardy coming out of the blocks is good for us,” Courier said. “We’ll look forward to that.”

Austinite Andy Roddick will be the country’s No. 2 player. Some felt that Roddick could be given the top-seed because he serves as the ambassador between the host city of Austin and the Davis Cup, but Courier said that never influenced his decision.

“Andy obviously will be backing him up,” he said. “There’s no real drama for us. Sorry not to give you a headline, but it kind of is what it is.”

The Fish-Lopez match will be important for both countries, as that first point (in first-to-three format) can be vital.

“It obviously sets the tone,” Fish said. “We’ve got a pretty good guy [Roddick] coming behind me, as well. So, you know, I won’t feel any extra pressure. We’re looking to get to three, and that’s the goal.”

Roddick will take on David Ferrer, the world’s No. 6 player. On the season, the Spaniard has a 34-10 record and holds the head-to-head advantage over Roddick, 4-3.

Ferrer’s greatest asset is his elite return game — the Spanish Andre Agassi — and that should help him against Roddick’s killer serve.

But A-Rod will have home-court advantage — one that goes much farther than just partial fans. The indoor court in the Frank Erwin Center plays incredibly quick, an advantage that has been met with disapproval by the Spaniards.

“The mandate is not for us to find a court that suits everyone, it’s to find a court that suits ourselves within the rules, which is what we’ve done,” Courier said. “So we’re very happy with the court.”

The singles matches will flip on Sunday, with Roddick playing Lopez — a rematch of the third round of this year’s Wimbledon, which resulted in a win for Lopez. Fish will battle Ferrer.

The USA doubles twins, Bob and Mike Bryan, who are a week removed from victory on the Wimbledon grass, face off against Lopez and Fernando Verdasco on Saturday.

“It’s indoors. It’s a hard court. It’s different balls,” Bob Bryan said. “But we still have a smile on our face from the Wimbledon title.”