Mike “Bryan and Ryan” Harrison Win Doubles in Five Sets to Extend World Group Semifinal in Croatia
(September 15, 2018) Mike Bryan came out of Davis Cup retirement on Saturday in Croatia, teaming up with Ryan Harrison for the first time to win an epic Davis Cup doubles match, 7-5, 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) over Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig to extend this Semifinal tie into Sunday in Zadar.
The match lasted 4 hours, 41 minutes on the Sporski Centar Visnjik’s red-clay surface, officially the longest U.S. Davis Cup doubles match since the competition began using tiebreaks in 1989. Bryan is now 27-5 in Davis Cup doubles, while Harrison is 3-0 this year. Bryan also gets redemption, of sorts, as his and brother Bob’s loss to Dodig and Marin Cilic in the 2016 Quarterfinals vs. Croatia was the match that sparked the Croatians’ improbable comeback to win that tie and prompted the Bryans to retire from Davis Cup.
“Yeah, we were feeling pretty good, going up two sets to love,” said Mike Bryan. “Had a break point early in the third. Felt like maybe we could have jumped on top of it and finished it, but they got loose. They swung, and they started dropping returns. Harry didn’t serve a bad game at 0-1, they just got hot and made a lot of returns. They started swinging, and they got life. The crowd picked them up, and it was a different match. They played a great third. The fourth could have gone either way. So, we feel fortunate to get out of there with a victory – 7-6 in the fifth, I’ve never played a match like that. I’ve never played as long of a match like that. It was just a dog fight. Could have gone either way. Luckily I had a great partner in Harry. He stepped up there at the end, and he played great.”
“These are the matches that you look back on in your career and you really remember,” he continued. “Playing for your country, winning an away-tie. This is really why you play the game. And I think I missed that for a couple years away from Davis Cup. When Jim asked me to play, I was thrilled to rejoin the team, if I could help in any way. Now that there’s a five-man lineup I thought I could be somewhat of an asset to the team. This is really why I came over here and got back in Davis Cup. I’m thrilled to give the U.S. one point. We did our job, and now we’re hoping to give the team some momentum into tomorrow.”
While the U.S. still has come back from an 0-2 Davis Cup deficit only once in 41 tries, the odds of a comeback from 1-2 down are slightly better. That’s happened five times in U.S. Davis Cup history, most recently in the year 2000, when it happened twice.
The Americans’ fate will be decided with singles on Sunday, as Steve Johnson is set to take on Cilic in the day’s first match, with Frances Tiafoe pitted against Borna Coric in what would be the fifth and decisive rubber. Each team captain may change the players nominated for singles up to one hour before the match.
The winner of this tie will face France in the Finals, as France defeated Spain, 3-0, today, in the other semifinal. The U.S. would host France in the United States November 23-25.
Play on Sunday begins at 11 a.m. local time, 5 a.m. ET. Each match will air live on Tennis Channel.
ORDER OF PLAY / RESULTS
Borna Coric (CRO) d. Steve Johnson (USA), 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO)d. Frances Tiafoe (USA), 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(5)
Saturday, 2 p.m./8 a.m. ET
Mike Bryan/Ryan Harrison (USA) d. Ivan Dodig/Mate Pavic (CRO), 7-5, 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(5)
Sunday, 11 a.m./5 a.m. ET
Steve Johnson (USA) v. Marin Cilic (CRO)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) v. Borna Coric (CRO)