United States clinch Davis Cup

The United States captured the Davis Cup on Saturday, dethroning defending champions Russia to end a 12-year drought in the international tennis competition.

A doubles victory by Bob and Mike Bryan gave the Americans an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Russia in the best-of-five match World Group final.

The outcome had seemed all but inevitable after Andy Roddick and James Blake posted singles victories on Friday.

Although the United States boast the most Davis Cup titles of any nation—a tally that now stands at 32—their last victory had come in 1995 when a Pete Sampras-led team defeated Russia in the final.

While the triumph ended a national dry spell, it also marked the end of a passionate personal journey for this particular Davis Cup squad, captained by Patrick McEnroe.

“I couldn’t be happier for these guys because they’ve been through it all together. It feels absolutely awesome,” said McEnroe, who took over the captaincy in 2001.

Roddick began his Davis Cup career the same year and has missed just one tie since, that because of injury. Blake, too, made his Davis Cup debut in 2001, but missed 2004 because of injury and illness.

“It has been a long road,” Roddick said.
“To be here and bring the Cup back to the United States is amazing. I feel like we really do deserve it. We’ve been the ultimate team.”

The Bryan twins, who finished 2007 as the number one doubles team in the world for the third straight year, delivered the third point with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-2 victory over Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev.

On Friday, Roddick beat Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and Blake defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3).

“We’ve been dreaming about this moment our whole lives, since we were two years old,” Bob Bryan said.

“We’ve been part of this team since 2003, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but this makes it all worthwhile—to come here and win it for the home fans.”

The tie marked the first time the US had hosted a Davis Cup final since 1992, when the United States beat Switzerland in Fort Worth, Texas, and a 10-year-old Roddick was in the crowd.

The Americans reached the final with victories over the Czech Republic at Ostrava, Spain at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Sweden in the semifinals at Gothenburg.

“My vocabulary isn’t big enough—I’m so happy,” Blake said of trying to describe his feelings. “Nothing makes me more proud than to be a teammate of these guys.”

The Bryans—12-1 in Davis Cup play coming into the clash—were the heavy favourites over Davydenko and Andreev, who were playing together for the first time since April.

The Russians were able to push the US duo in the opening set, as neither team surrendered a service break en route to the tiebreaker.

The Russians took a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker before the Americans won six of the next seven points.

The Bryans broke Davydenko in the opening game of the second set and the Russians couldn’t convert their only break chance, against Bob Bryan’s serve in the sixth game.

“They are much better doubles players,” Andreev said simply. “I think if we can go deeper in the set, like in the first set, then in tiebreak we could have some chances. But if they make an early break, then it’s very hard to break them. They’re just better.”

Despite his world number four ranking in singles, Davydenko had been left out of the singles line-up by Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev, and it was Davydenko’s serve that the Bryans were able to pounce on again in the third set.

They broke him twice to seal the victory and spark a celebration by the US team on the court at Memorial Coliseum as Roddick, Blake and McEnroe savoured their first Davis Cup triumph to the cheers and chants of the 12 000-strong crowd.

Roddick had started the Americans on the road to victory in style on Friday, firing 25 aces in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over a tentative Dmitry Tursunov.

Blake followed up with a gutsy 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3) victory over Mikhail Youzhny, defying critics who doubted his ability to come through in a meaningful Davis Cup match.

“I think the biggest key for us this weekend was the guys really kept their emotions in check,” McEnroe said. “They went out and prepared really well all week.

“Even the last month or so, they had different schedules but they all were thinking about this, preparing themselves individually as well as they could.”—AFP

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