Bryans beat Russia, keep U.S. alive in Davis Cup

Updated: September 23, 2006, 5:00 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- For the U.S. Davis Cup team, it's one must-win match down, two to go.

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan
AP Photo/Misha JaparidzeMikhail Youzhny, left, and Dmitry Tursunov couldn't stop Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

Andy Roddick and James Blake must win their singles matches Sunday against Russia for the Americans to advance to the final against Argentina.

Bob and Mike Bryan kept U.S. hopes alive with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny in Saturday's semifinal. The win leaves the Americans trailing 2-1.

The winner will face Argentina, which beat Australia 3-0, in the final in December.

Russia enters Sunday's matches playing at home, on a surface that has brought grumbles from Roddick, and with a choice of opponent against him.

According to the draw, Roddick is to play Youzhny in the opening match. But Russian coach Shamil Tarpishchev has clay-court specialist Nikolay Davydenko as an option.

Youzhny said he'd be happy to play, but Roddick said Friday that he expects to face Davydenko.

"To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised either way," said U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe. "Andy is very familiar with both players. It's really a matter of Andy just coming out and playing his game, trying to stay composed, relaxed -- but intense."

On Friday, Safin beat Roddick 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) and Youzhny beat Blake 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5, putting the U.S. squad down 2-0. The last time the U.S. rallied from a 2-0 Davis Cup deficit was in 1934 against Australia.

Chasing the United States' first Davis Cup title since 1995, the Bryan brothers broke for a 5-3 lead in the first set and went on to win in 90 minutes on the clay court at Olympic Stadium.

"Andy and James kept coming up to us and saying, 'Give us a chance, give us another shot, let us redeem ourselves.' And that's kind of what we went into the match thinking all the time," Bob Bryan said.

With Youzhny serving at 3-all in the second set, the Wimbledon and Australian Open doubles champions rallied from 30-0 down to break, and Bob Bryan fired two aces three games later to put the Americans further ahead.

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

"When we were up two sets to love and a break, we stepped on the pedal a little harder, instead of just cruising out the match," Bob Bryan said.

The top-ranked Bryan brothers have lost just once in 10 Davis Cup matches. For Youzhny and Tursunov, it was their second loss in the two Davis Cup matches they have played together.

"The [American] guys played well, and when they're pressing you so hard, it's tough. They served perfectly," Tursunov said.

Russia, which has not lost at home in 10 years, needs to win one of the matches Sunday to secure its first berth in the Davis Cup final since its only title against France in 2002.

The Americans have come back from a 2-1 deficit five times -- twice in 2000, when Andre Agassi and Chris Woodruff won their reverse singles in the first round against Zimbabwe, and Pete Sampras clinched against the Czech Republic in the next round after Agassi made it 2-all.

In 1981, Roscoe Tanner and John McEnroe won the reverse singles in straight sets against Mexico. The other two U.S. comebacks were in 1961 and 1902.

The semifinal is being played at the same venue where Sampras won all three of his matches on clay in 1995 to help the United States capture its 31st Davis Cup title. Russia, which has never beaten the United States, is unbeaten at home since losing that final.

In the other Davis Cup semifinal, Jose Acasuso upset Lleyton Hewitt in a rain-delayed singles match and host Argentina won its doubles match to reach its first Davis Cup final in 25 years.

In the World Group playoffs, host Austria won a place in the Davis Cup World Group next season by gaining a 3-0 lead over Mexico.

Roger Federer and Yves Allegro gave host Switzerland a 2-1 lead over Serbia with a 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Nenad Zimonjic and Ilia Bozoljac.

Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco beat Italy's Daniele Bracciali and Giorgio Galimberti in doubles 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to lift host Spain to a 2-1 lead.

Olivier Rochus and Kristof Vliegen extended Belgium's lead to 2-1 over host Slovakia.

Tied 1-1, the doubles match between host Romania and South Korea was postponed Saturday because of rain.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press