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April 7, 2007

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2007 Davis Cup - United States vs. Spain
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA - April 7, 2007
Photos by Pablo Sanfrancisco
Commentary by Ray Bowers


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For a while it looked as if neither pair could win a point against opponent's serves. Only occasionally were servers required to make a first volley. It was top-flight men's doubles at its least interesting.

But in the eighth game, trailing love-40, the Bryan brothers began finding the court with low, softish returns, forcing extended exchanges wherein the Americans excelled. Some fine court play yielded what seemed a set-clinching service-break, the Bryans now ahead 5 games to 3. But then, improbably, Bob Bryan produced some poor serving, surrendering the service-break advantage. Two games later Fernando Verdasco, who had faltered intermittently in singles the day before, abruptly contributed three disastrous errors in volleying to yield the first set, Bryans over Lopez-Verdasco 75.

Having now found their zone of comfort, the Americans settled down to exploiting their edge in volleying consistency. Errors in volleying by the Spanish pair came often enough to encourage the Americans in their relatively conservative hitting, while the brothers seemed increasingly able to return the strong lefty serves of both opponents. The only service-break of the set was marked mainly by mistakes at net by the Spaniards. It ended at 63 and a two-set lead for the home team.

American confidence was now high. Perhaps the American hitting softened just a bit, waiting for Spanish volleying errors. But after Lopez survived an early, difficult serving game, the level of play by the Spanish pair improved markedly both in serving and in net play. As Spanish winners began increasingly to appear instead of errors, hints of concern could be noticed on the Bryan faces. It was again Bob Bryan's serve that was broken by the Spaniards. Feliciano Lopez closed out matters with some superb serves, 63.

The crowd involvement in the fourth set became extreme, worthy of great Cup matches of the past. Both pairs weathered difficult moments. The Americans seemed the stronger, but the visitors continued to improve in confidence, consistency, and aggressiveness. The play was now often spectacular, including some magnificent serving by the visitors. It ended in the closest of tiebreak games, the Americans gaining a minibreak early but then yielding it. The difference was a lucky net-cord serve-return by Mike in the tenth point, giving the Bryans the critical minibreak, cemented two points later by a Bob poach.

The intensity of the ensuing celebration was predictable. The victorious Americans could now relax for Sunday's singles and could look forward to September in Sweden, that nation's team having defeated Argentina a few hours earlier.

 

Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan (USA) d. Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez (SPA) 75 63 36 76(5)

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