Bryans' win keeps US Davis Cup hopes alive

BRILLIANT BROTHERS: The doubles specialists beat their Russian opponents in straight sets to give the US a chance of making the final in today's reverse singles


Sun, Sep 24, 2006 - Page 24


Bob and Mike Bryan beat Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in yesterday's Davis Cup semi-final to keep alive the US' hopes of beating Russia.

The win means the top-ranked Bryan brothers have lost just once in 10 Davis Cup matches -- in last year's first round against eventual champions Croatia -- and leaves the US trailing 2-1 ahead of today's reverse singles.

Russia had put the US on the verge of elimination on Friday, when Youzhny and Marat Safin won their opening singles matches on a sluggish clay court at Olympic Stadium, losing only one set between them.

Chasing the US' first Davis Cup since 1995, the Bryan Brothers broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set, with Youzhny surviving two break points before smashing a lob into the net on the third. Bob Bryan served the next game at love to give the US the lead.

With Youzhny serving at 3-3 in the second set, the Wimbledon and Australian Open champions rallied from 30-0 down to break. Serving for the set three games later, Bob Bryan fired two aces to put the US up 2-0.

They quickly took the lead in the third set, capitalizing on three unforced errors from Tursunov to break the Russians in the opening game. Four straight errors from Tursunov handed the US another break in the seventh and Mike Bryan closed out the match with an ace.

On Friday, Safin justified his selection by Russian coach Shamil Tarpishchev over higher-ranked teammate Nikolay Davydenko by beating Roddick 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Youzhny then defeated James Blake 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Tarpishchev had kept the US guessing about who would face the Bryans, and eventually opted for Youzhny and Tursunov as initially planned.

It was their second loss in the two Davis Cup matches they have played together.

Russia, which has not lost at home in 10 years, needs to win one of today's reverse singles matches to secure their first berth in the Davis Cup final since their only title in 2002.

The winner will face Australia or Argentina in December's final.

Rain stopped play for the day in Buenos Aires with Jose Acasuso leading Lleyton Hewitt 4-0 in the fifth set of the second rubber in their Davis Cup semi-final on Friday.

The game was poised at two sets apiece -- 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 -- before play came to a halt.

David Nalbandian earlier handed Argentina an early 1-0 lead over Australia with a win over Mark Philippoussis, recalled to the Australian Davis Cup set-up after an absence of two-and-a-half years.

Nalbandian took one hour 58 minutes to score the 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over the big-serving Aussie.

"It was great, the crowd was amazing, the stadium was completely full and it was only 11 in the morning, so that's unbelievable," said Nalbandian of the 14,000 fans packed into the Parque Roca venue. "The match was very quiet and I didn't get tired which is very good for me for the doubles."

Philippoussis said he had found conditions tough on the red clay court, which had slowed down from earlier in the week.

"I found it tough to put pace on the ball and in a lot of those rallies I thought I'd get a short reply to try and dictate the point and he'd get there comfortably," he said.