Davis Cup roundup: U.S. clinches quarterfinal berth (Neil related)

Davis Cup roundup: U.S. clinches quarterfinal berth

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Ah, home sweet home. Twins Bob and Mike Bryan dominated Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle of Austria 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 Saturday, allowing the United States to clinch a spot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals and improve to 28-0 in first-round series on American soil.

The doubles victory followed Friday’s singles wins by Andy Roddick and Robby Ginepri to give the hosts an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five matchup.

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe’s squad was upset by Croatia on the road in last year’s first round. McEnroe has vowed that the United States will end its Davis Cup drought this year: The country owns a record 31 titles — but none since 1995.

When Melzer’s return sailed long on match point, the Bryan brothers dropped their rackets, jogged toward each other and jumped up to bump chests. They joined Roddick and Ginepri for a victory lap around the court with a giant U.S. flag, while Neil Diamond’s America blared on the speakers.

The U.S. team will face defending champion Australia or Sweden in April’s quarterfinals. Sweden leads Australia 2-1 heading into Sunday’s singles matches in Adelaide.

The Bryans put on a textbook doubles display, knowing just when to take one step to cut off an angle or when to switch sides during a point. They truly are interchangeable on court, with matching white caps, red shirts, blue shorts and striped sneakers.

There are two ways to tell them apart at a glance: Bob wears a string of beads around his neck; Bob’s left-handed, Mike’s right-handed.

They’re the third set of brothers to play Davis Cup for the United States; McEnroe and older brother John are one of the other pairs. While this was just the Bryans’ second Davis Cup match (they’re 2-0), they are an accomplished doubles team.

The duo won the 2003 French Open title and were finalists at the 2003 U.S. Open and 2004 Australian Open. Melzer and Knowle, by contrast, dropped to 0-4 in Davis Cup doubles action, and they are only 5-4 in ATP Tour play.

The Austrians picked up their only service break of Saturday’s match off Mike Bryan to tie the third set at 4-4. But in the very next game, Knowle double-faulted to 0-40, and again on the next point to make it 5-4 for the United States. Bob Bryan then served out the victory.

The Americans moved ahead 4-2 in the first set with help from Melzer, who double-faulted twice in the sixth game, including on break point.

When Knowle hit a volley wide on break point at 5-2, the Americans owned the first set. During the ensuing changeover, Melzer and Austrian captain Gunter Bresnik argued the call, saying Knowle’s shot was in.

Melzer showed more frustration later. He spiked his racket to the court like a football after dumping a backhand into the net in the second set, and he hammered the net with his racket after missing a volley in the next game.

Perhaps Melzer was still thinking about Friday, when his 12 double-faults helped Ginepri rally to beat him 6-7 (6-8), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to become the first U.S. rookie in Davis Cup history to win a match after dropping the first two sets.

U.S. Open champion Roddick ripped a serve at a record 150 mph during his 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Stefan Koubek on Friday.

Austrian captain: Muster probable successor

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Former French Open champion Thomas Muster probably will take over Austria’s Davis Cup team, outgoing captain Gunter Bresnik said Saturday.

“I heard he is interested in the job, and a no-name like me has to move on,” Bresnik said.

He ended his tenure as Austria’s captain with a first-round loss to the United States. The Americans clinched the best-of-five series by taking a 3-0 lead when Bob and Mike Bryan beat Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 Saturday.

Bresnik’s contract ends in June, and he said he thinks Muster will be in charge when Austria plays a Davis Cup playoff in September.

Bresnik went 11-7 as Austria’s captain. He coached the team in 1992-93 and 1997-04.

Earlier, he coached Boris Becker and current U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe.

Muster won the 1995 French Open.

Argentina squashes Morocco on way to quarterfinals

AGADIR, Morocco — Argentina reached the Davis Cup quarterfinals, beating Morocco in doubles to clinch the first-round series.

Lucas Arnold and Agustin Calleri defeated Mounir El Aarej and Mehdi Tahiri 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 on the indoor courts to give the Argentines a 3-0 lead in the best-of-five series in the World Group.

Morocco was without its top two players — Younes El Aynaoui and Hicham Arazi are both injured. El Aarej is ranked 404th and Tahiri is 611th.

Arazi quit Friday’s match against David Nalbandian in the fourth set because of a leg strain. Guillermo Coria, ranked No. 4 and making his Davis Cup debut, gave Argentina a winning start by routing El Aarej 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.

Dutch concede doubles to Canada

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands — The Netherlands conceded its Davis Cup doubles match with Canada on Saturday when Paul Haarhuis quit with a shoulder injury.

Canada, behind Daniel Nestor and Frederic Niemeyer, won 7-6 (12-10), 1-0 to remain alive in the first round of the World Group. The Dutch will take a 2-1 lead in Sunday’s singles.

Haarhuis, who turns 38 this month, had an operation last year but said his surgeon cleared him to play.

Verkerk will open Sunday’s singles against Frank Dancevic, followed by Sjeng Schalken against Simon Larose. Verkerk and Schalken are ranked in the top 20. Neither Canadian is ranked above 200.

Safin, Youzhny buy Russia 2-1 lead over Belarus

MINSK, Belarus — Marat Safin and Mikhail Youzhny won their doubles match in straight sets, putting Russia ahead of Belarus 2-1 in the first round of the Davis Cup.

Safin and Youzhny, teaming in Davis Cup doubles for the first time, defeated Max Mirnyi and Alexander Shvec 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4). Mirnyi is one of the most experienced doubles players on the ATP Tour with 19 doubles titles.

In singles Sunday, Mirnyi plays Igor Andreev, and Safin faces Vladimir Voltchkov. Russia, the 2002 Cup winner, is one victory from a quarterfinal with the winner of the Argentina-Morocco series.

Belarus, a newcomer to the World Group, had been favored to win the doubles. But the team of Mirnyi and Voltchkov, with a 13-4 record, could not go forward because Voltchkov sprained his right ankle Friday and quit his singles match against Andreev.

Doubles squad fires Czech Republic ahead of Spain 2-1

BRNO, Czech Republic — Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek won their doubles match, sending the Czech Republic to a 2-1 lead over Spain in the first round of the Davis Cup.

They edged Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 on the indoor carpet chosen especially for Novak.

Spain, the 2003 Davis Cup runner-up, needs to win both singles Sunday to avoid elimination. The Spaniards are without two injured stars for the best-of-five World Group series — French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya.

On Sunday, Novak plays Robredo, followed by Stepanek against Nadal. Nadal, 17, is the youngest man to play Davis Cup for Spain.

On Friday, Novak defeated Nadal in the opening singles. Robredo then downed Stepanek in four sets.

France nudges ahead of Croatia 2-1

METZ, France — Nicolas Escude and Mickael Llodra beat Croatia’s Mario Ancic and Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in doubles to give France a 2-1 lead in the first round of the Davis Cup.

France, a nine-time Davis Cup champion, leads 2-1 entering Sunday’s final two matches in the World Group series on clay. France’s Arnaud Clement faces Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic, and France’s Thierry Ascione plays Ancic.

On Friday, Ljubicic tied it 1-1 with a victory over Ascione. Clement beat Ancic in straight sets.

Sweden leads Australia 2-1

ADELAIDE, Australia — Jonas Bjorkman and Joachim Johansson edged Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5 in doubles, giving Sweden a 2-1 lead over defending champion Australia in the first round of the Davis Cup.

The match lasted 4 hours, 28 minutes. The fourth set was twice interrupted when the chair umpire admonished the crowd for its conduct.

Two months after beating Spain in the final in Melbourne, Australia needs to win both singles Sunday to avoid becoming the seventh champion — since the final round was introduced in 1972 — to be ousted in the first round of the following season.

Australia’s Mark Philippoussis is expected to face Robin Soderling in the first singles. If he wins, a deciding fifth match would feature Thomas Enqvist vs. Lleyton Hewitt.

The opening singles were split Friday, with Hewitt beating Soderling and Enqvist downing Philippoussis.

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