Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison outlasted Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic in a four-hour, 43-minute thriller on Saturday to keep U.S. hopes alive in their Davis Cup semifinal match against Croatia.
Croatia finished Day 1 of the tie with a 2-0 lead after Borna Coric beat Steve Johnson and Marin Cilic beat Frances Tiafoe in the first two singles rubbers, but Bryan and Harrison closed the gap to 2-1 after pulling off a 7-5 7-6 (6) 1-6 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) victory over two of Croatia’s very best doubles players.
“We both have high energy—it’s great to win one for the country,” Bryan told DavisCup.com after.
“7-6 in the fifth, on the road and on dirt, this is right up there and I will never forget this one.”
Time and time again, Bryan and Harrison battled their way out of danger. Dodig and Pavic actually had set points in both the first two sets—one up 5-3 in the first set and one up 6-5 in the second set tie-break—but the Americans saved them both and eventually found themselves up two sets to love.
They were two points from losing in the fifth set, too, serving at 5-6, 15-30—but the U.S. duo survived and ultimately sent the semifinal tie into Day 3, where the reverse singles rubbers will take the court.
As of now, the first reverse singles rubber is scheduled to be between Cilic and Johnson, a head-to-head the Croat dominates 5-0 (and 12-1 in sets). But there was talk after the match of Sam Querrey subbing in for Johnson—the Croat leads that head-to-head 6-0 (but a closer 15-6 in sets).
Coric and Tiafoe, who would play the second reverse singles rubber, have never met before.
Meanwhile, over at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France, the French team clinched their spot in the Davis Cup final after Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut defeated the Spanish team of Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez in straight sets in two hours and three minutes, 6-0 6-4 7-6 (7).
Benoit Paire and Lucas Pouille had won the first two singles rubbers of the tie on Friday.
“It’s quite possible this could be the last match of my career on tour, and what a way to finish,” said Benneteau, who actually came out of retirement to play the doubles rubber in this Davis Cup tie.
France, the defending champions, have now reached back-to-back Davis Cup finals for the first time since 2001 and 2002. The last team to win back-to-back titles was the Czechs in 2012 and 2013.
This Weekend on Tennis Channel PLUS
-Davis Cup Semifinals (Sep. 14-16): USA takes on Croatia, while Spain faces France
-Additionally, watch Davis Cup World Group Playoffs featuring Austria vs. Australia and Canada vs. Netherlands