Americans need one singles win

Updated: April 10, 2004, 8:27 PM ET
Associated Press

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Andy Roddick played spectator Saturday, cheering from the front row as U.S. Davis Cup teammates Bob and Mike Bryan punctuated a doubles victory over Sweden with their trademark chest bump.

The Bryans would love to make Roddick part of the celebratory ritual Sunday. All he has to do is beat Jonas Bjorkman to clinch a U.S. victory.

"We'll definitely come flying out of the crowd, if he's up for it," Bob Bryan said.

The Bryans beat Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to give the Americans a 2-1 lead, and they can win the best-of-five quarterfinal by taking one of two singles matches Sunday. Roddick plays first, and Mardy Fish follows against Thomas Enqvist.

Bjorkman, 32, has played seven sets the past two days in muggy weather. He lost last month at Key Biscayne to Roddick, who went on to win the tournament.

"Andy is going to come with his game," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said. "It's going to be very tough to beat him."

The United States is 35-0 since 1987 when taking a lead into Sunday.

"We're good enough to win two matches," Bjorkman said. "But it's obviously going to be tough."

The team that wins the three-day event will be at home in September against first-time semifinalist Belarus, which took an insurmountable 3-0 lead Saturday against Argentina. In the other quarterfinals, France won the doubles to take a 2-1 lead over Switzerland, and Spain led the Netherlands 2-0.

Bryan and Bryan returned well and dominated at the net against the Swedes. The brothers directed many of their shots at Johansson, a replacement for Joachim Johansson, sidelined last week by a shoulder injury.

"I would do the same if I were the Bryans," Johansson said. "I knew when the ball was in play, they were going to fire at me."

While Johansson struggled with his volleys, Bjorkman served poorly, losing four of his first five service games -- the first two times at love.

"Just a bad day at the office," Bjorkman said.

Left-hander Bob Bryan served an ace on match point, and the brothers leaped into each other chest first, a ritual that dates to their days at Stanford. The victory delighted a lively, sunbaked crowd that included a pep band, lots of red, white and blue, and repeated chants of "U-S-A!"

"This is the best atmosphere we've ever been a part of," Mike Bryan said. "We've never been so jacked, and we're definitely going to bring out that chest bump every time we win a Davis Cup match."

The Bryans, ranked No. 1 in the world, improved to 3-0 as a Davis Cup doubles team, while Bjorkman and Johansson fell to 0-3. Bjorkman lost for the first time in seven Davis Cup singles and doubles matches against the United States.

"We just ran into the Bryans on a really good day for them," Swedish captain Mats Wilander said.

The brothers pair won several frantic exchanges, including one when Bob Bryan retreated to hit a shot between his legs that Bjorkman failed to handle.

"Best shot of the week," McEnroe said.

"I've probably done that shot six or seven times in the past two years, and I've won every point," Bryan said.

He lost his serve in the opening game when a mixup left both brothers on the same half of the court on break point, and Bjorkman hit a winner into the vacated area.

Helped by Bjorkman's double fault, the Americans immediately broke back at love, then broke him again to lead 4-2. Bob Bryan closed out the set with an ace and three service winners, the last one at 139 mph.

The Bryans fell behind 3-1 in the second set, then ran off four games in a row. Again Bob Bryan closed out the set, this time with an ace.

The final service break came on a crosscourt return winner by Mike Bryan, who sank to his knees and pumped his fists to celebrate a 4-3 lead. Three games later, the Americans closed out their victory.

"After having this pressure, it's going to be great rooting our guts out for Andy," Bob Bryan said. "We'll get our pompoms out."

And they'll be ready with a chest bump.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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