Sunday, February 8, 2004

U.S. advances to Cup quarters against Sweden

Bryan twins win doubles over Austria

The Associated Press

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Moments after clinching a Davis Cup quarterfinal berth, twins Bob and Mike Bryan began a victory lap with a giant U.S. flag.

As Neil Diamond's "America" blared over the arena's speakers, the world's top-ranked doubles team was joined in the jog by former singles No. 1 Andy Roddick and Robby Ginepri, who just cracked the top 25.

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe applauded as he watched the celebration, knowing this quartet of players could be capable of ending the country's longest Davis Cup title drought since the 1930s.

The Bryans dominated Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 Saturday to give the hosts an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-5 first-round matchup against Austria. The doubles victory followed Friday's singles wins by Roddick and Ginepri.

"Long term, I feel really good about where we are headed," McEnroe said. "With this group of guys supporting each other, we can realistically say every year, 'We can win it.' I certainly feel that way about this year."

His squad was upset by Croatia in last year's first round, extending a dismal Davis Cup stretch for a country with a record 31 titles - but none since 1995. That's the Americans' longest gap since the 11 years between victories in 1926 and 1937.

When Melzer's return sailed long on match point, the Bryan brothers dropped their rackets, ran toward each other and jumped to bump chests. By beating Austria, the United States improved to 28-0 in first-round series.

"Playing at home, they look very, very solid," said Austrian captain Gunter Bresnik, who said 1995 French Open champion Thomas Muster probably will replace him. "As we saw today, they obviously have the best doubles team in the world."

The United States advanced to the quarterfinals in April against Sweden, a winner over 2003 champion Australia. Jonas Bjorkman gave Sweden an unbeatable 3-1 lead today in Adelaide in the first reverse singles match, beating Mark Philippoussis 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Argentina also qualified for the quarterfinals, taking a 3-0 lead against Morocco. Elsewhere, the Czech Republic leads Spain 2-1, France leads Croatia 2-1, Russia leads Belarus 2-1, Switzerland leads Romania 2-1, and the Netherlands leads Canada 2-1.

PAN PACIFIC OPEN: Defending champion Lindsay Davenport overpowered Jelena Dokic to advance to the final in Tokyo.

The second-seeded American defeated No. 7 Dokic 6-1, 6-0 at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium to set up a meeting with Magdalena Maleeva in the final.

Maleeva advanced when fifth-seeded American Chanda Rubin was forced to pull out earlier Saturday because of a left knee injury.

"I aggravated my knee during my first-round match," Rubin said. "Unfortunately, I won't be able to play today."

But the other seeded American will have her chance.

"If I serve well and hit a good first groundstroke, it's very effective on this surface," Davenport said. "I think Jelena was hurt today and that's unfortunate for the fans, but I just tried to play my game."

Dokic's left leg was taped and she appeared to have difficulty moving around the court. The player from Serbia and Montenegro, who sat out last month's Australian Open, was playing in her first tournament of the year.

She said after the match that she injured her left groin during her second round match against Janette Husarova.

Today, Davenport will be gunning for her fourth title in this tournament. She also won in 1998 and 2001.

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