Redemption. Last year, while Bob and Mike Bryan put together a masterpiece – one of the most successful seasons in Mens Doubles tennis history – Davis Cup was an obvious rip in the canvas. 2013 saw the twins go 0-2, losing two tough five-setters versus Brazil in Jacksonville and Serbia in Boise:
- 1R: Lost to Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares 6-7(6), 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3, 3-6
- QF: Lost to Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonic 6-7(5), 6-7(1), 7-5, 6-4, 13-15
Davis Cup is important to these guys. They captured the title for Team USA in 2007 with a doubles win over Russia in Portland, Oregon. They know what it means to deliver clutch wins for their teammates. After Sam Querrey’s loss to James Ward on Friday, Bob and Mike were forced to put the past behind them, step-up and deliver a must-win again.
As suspected, Captain Leon Smith replaced Andy Murray with Dominic Inglot, the former University of Virginia standout and #27 doubles player in the world. With a 2-0 lead going into Saturday, common-sense strategy said to rest the world #6, and have him deliver the knockout blow on Sunday versus Querrey in reverse singles.
From the start of the match, Inglot and Colin Fleming – or #Flemglot (British media nickname for the match) – were overpowered by the determined twins. Mix in a few double-faults and unforced errors, Bob and Mike were able to break immediately, and ultimately claimed the first set 6-2. With a hiccup in the third, the brothers then refocused and dominantly delivered the win for Team USA, 6-1 in the fourth. Match time: 1-hour and 51-minutes. Motivated by the situation and a tough 2013, the twins steamrolled Flemglot:
- R3: Bob and Mike Bryan def. Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1
Now…Sunday features the REAL test of mettle and fortitude. Two matches remain. Team USA must win them both. Great Britain is favored, with worldwide expectation that Murray will easily dispatch Querrey in Sunday’s first match.
Sam’s resolve is in question after Friday’s unexpected loss to James Ward. He was up 2-sets-to-1 and serving with a 4-3 lead in the fourth, but couldn’t put together the win for his teammates. Because of the way that match ended, because of his history with mental collapse during key moments (Djokovic in Boise last year, after Novak severely sprained his ankle), very few are giving Sam a fighting chance in this one.
However, after Friday’s “severe humbling” by Ward, Sam now has absolutely nothing to lose. To Sam’s advantage, the burden of expectation is gone. No one expects him to beat Andy Murray.
How will he chose to look at the situation? Now backed into a corner, will he come out fighting, trusting his serve and fitness, determined to prove his talent against one of the best in the game? Is he ready to prove to HIMSELF – and no one else – that he has the backbone to see this through, especially if it goes the distance?
For his confidence, his future, his sanity…it would be nice to see Sam Querrey pull off the unexpected. He has the talent.
But then…imagine that! Should Sam deliver the win of his career, the entire Davis Cup First Round will come down to Donald Young and James Ward. James has already achieved hero status. Would it then be Donald’s turn?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…one match, one set, one game, one point at a time.