AUSTIN -- Andy Roddick might be the face of the U.S. Davis Cup team, but Bob and Mike Bryan have been the rock in the middle of the lineup for a long time, and the Americans needed their top-ranked doubles team to come through more than ever Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.
Trailing 2-0 in the World Group quarterfinals against Spain and facing elimination in the best-of-five series, the Bryans did what they had done 17 times before -- come away with a victory.
They rallied from a set down by converting three service breaks for a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers and Fernando Verdasco to put the match back in the hands of singles players Roddick and Mardy Fish.
Fish, ranked No. 8 in the world, will meet No. 6 David Ferrer in the first match at 2 p.m. today. Tenth-ranked Roddick will follow in the second match against No. 31 Feliciano Lopez. The U.S. needs to win both matches to advance to the semifinals.
The Bryan brothers, who are 18-2 when playing together in Davis Cup competition, are the winningest doubles team in U.S. Davis Cup history. They are coming off their second Wimbledon title, their 11th Grand Slam doubles title.
"It feels good to do our job," Mike Bryan said. "We're on the scoreboard now. The crowd was a huge factor. Hopefully they continue to bring the noise tomorrow. I like our chances. Mardy against Ferrer, he's beaten him before, and if it comes down to Andy, there's no better guy to have in that position than Andy Roddick in his hometown."
But to get the singles players back in meaningful action today, American hopes fell to the Bryans, who improved to 4-0 in Davis Cup doubles together when the U.S. was trailing 2-0.
After failing to get a service break in the first set and losing the tiebreaker, the twins faced an uphill battle, but they changed the momentum quickly by breaking Granollers in the first game of the second set. Granollers was a late sub for Lopez, who was given the day off after his five-set victory over Fish on Friday. Two of the Bryans' three breaks came against Granollers, including the decisive break in the fourth set. Mike Bryan then dug out of a 15-40 hole to consolidate the break and the eventual victory.
"Any break is huge; I mean, there were only three breaks out there today," Mike Bryan said "Every one was really big. I mean, we were pretty stingy on our serve, and we're pretty confident when we're up a break. That's what we usually do, consolidate breaks.
"We were down two break points there at 4-3 and had some crazy long points [but won the next game]. That was probably the pivotal point once we got through that."
Only once has the U.S. rallied from a 0-2 deficit to advance, against Australia in 1934. They are 1-36 when trailing 0-2. It is the first time that the U.S. has been down 0-2 at home since the 1999 quarterfinal, when they lost to Australia 4-1 in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Fish lost to Lopez on Friday in five sets and Ferrer defeated Roddick in straight sets.
Spain has won two of the last three Davis Cup titles but is playing without No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal. Plus, Spain is 0-4 in Davis Cup competition on U.S. soil.
And Spanish captain Albert Costa said he still feels his team is the underdog, despite the 2-1 lead heading into today's reverse singles.
"We know every match is going to be so close," he said.
For U.S. captain Jim Courier, today comes down to simple math.
"They're the favorites," Courier said. "They're up 2-1. I mean, math is math. We can't deny that. We need two, they need one."
Rusty Hall, 817-390-7816