GIJON, Spain – The Bryan brothers delivered as expected on Saturday. That just leaves John Isner to perform the unexpected against defending champion Spain for the U.S. to possibly reach the Davis Cup final.
Mike and Bob Bryan won their doubles match against Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to cut Spain's semifinal lead to 2-1.
On Sunday, the 6-foot-9 Isner will face David Ferrer, who is 15-0 on clay in Davis Cup competition. Isner lost a draining five-set match on Friday to Nicolas Almagro.
"John knows how to separate yesterday from tomorrow," U.S. captain Jim Courier said. "There will be no need for a fire-up speech. He'll be ready."
Should Isner win, teammate Sam Querrey will play Almagro — who is 8-1 on the surface — for a spot in the final in November. The winner faces either Argentina or the Czech Republic.
"Until it's over, I think Yogi Berra said it best," Courier said.
Spain is aiming for a fourth trip to the final in five years, having won all previous 37 World Group series when they have swept the opening singles. The U.S. odds improve when down 1-2, having done it five times with the last in 2000.
"These guys did a great job, and I'm sure Spain's ready to put us away," Courier said. "But we've two guys ready to fire tomorrow. So we'll take our chances and see what happens."
Granollers was hampered by a left calf injury picked up in the second set. He stayed in the match but Spain lost momentum and mobility as the Bryans performed before nearly 15,000 spectators.
"We came here to get a win, we kept the team alive," Bob Bryan said. "It wasn't pretty all the time, but a win's a win and we're happy with that."
Mike Bryan stumbled chasing down a drop shot to miss out on the first match point, but Lopez double-faulted on the next opportunity.
"It's a shame because we felt really good today," said Lopez before alluding to his own calf problem that forced him to retire from the U.S. Open doubles semifinal. "It happened to me in the U.S. one week ago, it's tough."
During the marathon third game in the second set, Granollers limped off the court for treatment on his calf. Despite captain Alex Corretja calling on him to retire rather than risk injury, Granollers finished out the match.
"It wasn't easy to play a guy that was potentially injured," Mike Bryan said after the 3-hour, 38-minute match. "I thought we played safe for a set and a half."
Follow Paul Logothetis on http://twitter.com/PaulLogoAP