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December 11 01:59
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Whiff - and it's over for the Swiss Cheese: USA 3-0

February 11, 2012 | 10:50 AM

The doubles and the tie may have been decided in the 3rd set when nerves plagued Wawrinka and he cost Federer his serve by ill timed crosses at the net. But the game that will be remembered is the final one in the 4th set, when Mike Bryan was charged with serving out the match and the tie, leading 5-3. In this one, it was Fed who cracked - and on the most routine of shots for him: soft backhand volleys and easy backhands at mid-court. After dumping two short balls in the net to offset the strong play from Stan that got them to 30-30, Rog stood mid-court with time to execute a slow bouncing ball to his backhand - and whiffed. If there was air left in the high altitude hall ill-conceived (in retrospect) by Fed, it escaped with his final gulp.

How to explain it?

Credit belongs to the whole American team including Jim Courier (coaching only his 3rd tie) who kept his team's mind in the game with a belief in their ability to win. It seemed that belief was all Isner and Fish needed to steady their nerves in key moments. Mike Bryan's been in this situation plenty, and with a partner he'd enjoyed playing with before who got in synch with his movement during and between points (and after, when they connected with a signature Bryan chest bump), Mike was the perfect man to serve this one out (brother Bob was the nervous one, watching from Florida where he's helping his wife to care for his infant daughter, Makela). Mike helped calm his partner after Mardy dropped his opening service game, and though they didn't break until midway through the 2nd set, from then on they controlled the play and set the terms of the match, exploiting Wawrinka's weakness at the net and taking free points from Fed's backhand return in the deuce court. There were still some wonderful doubles points played by both sides, but the Americans never faced a serious challenge.

For Mike Bryan, this win takes his Cup record to 20-2, including the final win over Russia which gave the US the Cup in 2007. He had beaten Fed in Cup doubles the last time they played in '09 in the US, but lost to Fed and Stan in the last Olympics. London will be their last chance to take gold.

For Fed, this is as big a disappointment as he's faced since losing in the Olympic singles. As focused as the Bryans are on gold in doubles, Fed will looking past Wimbledon to take his place in history beside Nadal as holder of all major singles titles. But the one he'll have to wait at least another year for is Davis Cup.

Rick

Davis Cup 2012: USA Def. Switzerland


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