US lead France 2-1 as Austria deny Spanish sweep
Apr 7, 2012, 21:10 GMT
Monte Carlo - The US took a 2-1 lead over France on Saturday in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final as doubles specialists Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
The over-30 twins stand 10-0 in career away matches and 19-2 overall in Davis Cup doubles and have not lost a match since 2008 against France in North Carolina.
In Castellon, upstart Austria spoiled a potential clean sweep for holder Spain as Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya won the doubles rubber against Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (14-12).
It took the challengers five match points and 3:39 to produce the victory, which sends the tie into Sunday's reverse singles against a team missing pacesetter Rafael Nadal.
In Buenos Aires, David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank worked for nearly five hours to produce a 2-1 lead for host Argentina against Croatia, after scoring a 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 8-6 win in doubles against Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic.
The match concluded 10 sets and more than 10 hours on court in two matches over two days for Nalbandian.
In Prague, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek assured the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead over Serbia when they beat Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4).
The Bryan result on the clay of the Monte Carlo country club leaves France depending on world number six Jo-Wilfried Tsgona in the first of the reverse singles on Sunday.
The Frenchman will play his must-win contest against 11th-ranked John Isner, with home player Gilles Simon, the number 13, then due to face US rookie Ryan Harrison in what could be a deciding weekend rubber.
The Bryans made sure of their doubles by taking early leads in the first two sets and sweating through a tiebreak third to claim the valuable point for their side.
'We put heart and soul into this event,' Bob said. 'We got here early and are always well-prepared. We don't want to let out teammates down. That makes for great tennis. The doubles is very important, it's the biggest stage. We always go all-out in Davis Cup, we love the dirt.'
France have not lost at home since falling to Russia in the quarters six years ago, with the nation standing joint third with nine Davis Cup titles alongside Britain.
The 32-time champion US hold an 8-7 lead over the hosts in the series. The last time the US defeated France away was in the 1982 final in Grenoble. The countries are competing in France for the first time in a decade.
US captain Jim Courier is confident of Isner's chances against Tsonga after the big American beat Simon on opening day.
'There's not much to tell him. Play first-strike tennis, pick your spots and try to limit the rhythm of Jo. It will be a great battle,' said the captain.
'Our lead helps going to the final day, but it will still be tough. Jo is a great player. It will be a huge hitting battle. We want to get it done in four rubbers, but the French have other ideas.'
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