Bryan brothers inject excitement into Davis Cup

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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