KOOYONG —The powerhouse doubles pairing of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan were weighing heavily on both teams’ minds after an even opening day of the Davis Cup World Group first-round contest between Australia and the U.S in Melbourne.
The tie between the two most decorated Davis Cup nations was locked at 1-1 after a tense first day played in sweltering conditions at historic Kooyong.
John Isner got the visitors off to a perfect start with a straight-sets win against Sam Groth before Bernard Tomic levelled the scores with a hard-fought victory over Jack Sock, but U.S captain Jim Courier believes his team may still hold a slight advantage thanks to the record-breaking Bryans.
The brothers boast an imposing 23-4 Davis Cup win-loss record and have won 16 grand slam doubles titles. By contrast, the scheduled Aussie pairing Groth and debutant John Peers have only played one tournament together.
“Bob and Mike Bryan seem to be an advantage in the historical candour of doubles in Davis Cup,” former world No. 1 Courier said.
“Every day is a different day, but they’ve [historically] played awfully well. We feel confident in them but they’ve lost matches in Davis Cup, too.
“We don’t take anything for granted, but I LOVE having them on our side.”
Groth and the inexperienced Peers have been earmarked to lock horns against the intimidating duo, but teams can change players up to an hour before play.
That leaves Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt with a big decision to make, but he kept his cards close to his chest when pressed whether he would make any changes to his doubles pairing.
“We haven’t spoken about it yet,” the recently retired Australian deadpanned before saying he was confident he had the firepower in his team to down the dominant U.S pair.
“It’s hard to say – both matches today probably went to plan on rankings and form, and the Bryans are obviously favourites tomorrow in the doubles. But I still think our guys have got a good shot at it, and then on the last day, anything can happen.”
Groth said he was itching to make amends for his 6-7 (2-7),2-6, 2-6 loss to world No. 11 Isner.
“My body feels good, I feel like I’ve played good doubles in Davis Cup in the past and John and I have been playing well in practice,” the world No. 77 said.
“It’ll be up to Lleyton to see how things roll after today but I’m ready to get out there and [he will be] doing everything I can to put my hand up to play tomorrow.”
Despite his dominant victory, and his captain’s confidence, Isner said the visiting team couldn’t get ahead of itself.
“Exactly a year ago, I lost a heartbreaker in Scotland [to James Ward],” he said, remembering the match in which he led by two sets only to lose 15-13 in the fifth.
“Davis Cup is very testing, very trying.”
The tie will conclude after Sunday’s reverse singles.