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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, March 7, 2020

 
Taylor Fritz

Twenty-two year old talents Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka swept singles wins to move the United States to within one victory of a Davis Cup Finals return.

Photo credit: Daniel Shirley/USTA

American twenty-two year old talents Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka swept singles wins to set the table on Friday.

Today, 41-year-old twins Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan will try to play commanding closers in their Davis Cup farewell.

More: U.S. Rides Punk Power in Davis Cup

The 6'11" Opelka defeated Denis Istomin 6-2, 7-5 in opening singles before Fritz flogged 498th-ranked Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-1 staking the host United States to a 2-0 lead over Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup Qualifier at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Bryan brothers can clinch the best-of-five-match tie—and an American return to the Davis Cup Finals in November with a win over Istomin and Fayziev in today's opening doubles. It is their final Davis Cup match and the Bryans are aiming to go out with a bang.

U.S. captain Mardy Fish, who memorably partnered Mike Bryan to stun Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka helping spark the USA to a 5-0 sweep of Switzerland in the 2012 Davis Cup, said his squad is exactly where it wants to be.

"It's ideal, for sure. This is why we have come to the Bryans' position quite a lot over the years," Fish said. "And I, for one, am glad on their last one to give them the chance to clinch the tie, and I'm sure these guys are, too. These guys played great today.

"First match was really impressive by Reilly. And Taylor, not knowing too much about his opponent, came out and played pretty impressive tennis. These guys keep getting better and better every time I see them live, and they're building something special as far as the team is concerned."

The Bryan twins are the USA’s all-time winningest Davis Cup doubles team with a 24-5 record together and will play for their 25th and final Davis Cup victory at 6 p.m. Eastern time today, as they plan on retiring after the 2020 US Open.




Empowered by his run to his second career title in Delray Beach, Opelka pumped 10 aces, won 27 of 29 first-serve points and saved the only break point he faced in an 81-minute triumph to open.

It was Opelka's first career Davis Cup victory and stretched his winning streak to six matches.

"I know how important it is to get this done, to get the win, start out 1-0," Opelka said. "Makes Fritz's life less stressful. And then the Bryans are in their own class, you know. We are so lucky to have them here. They have been amazing.

"They don't really like preach or talk down to us at all. They just lead by example, which is I think the best way to have it. You know, we just watch them practice, prepare, how professional they are, how much time they have been spending even with us."

Taylor Fritz
Photo credit: Daniel Shirley/USTA

Fritz wasted no time flying out to a 5-0 lead.

The Acapulco finalist broke twice in each set scoring his fifth win in his last six matches.

"My plan was just to press him early on with my power so he couldn't really kind of get into the match or like kind of get going," Fritz said. "So I was trying to press him as much as possible with my power. I thought I did a great job with it."

Should Uzbekistan win today's opening doubles, Fritz would play Istomin in the opening reverse singles with Opelka taking on Fayziev if a fifth and final match is necessary.

Today’s matches can be seen live on CBSSports.com (http://cbssports.com/daviscup) and on the CBS Sports App, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Tennis Express

This this marks the end of the Bryan brothers distinguished era, captain Fish believes young Americans are ready to embark on a new era as the USA aims for a record-extending 33rd Davis Cup championship.

"Like I said, these guys, the youngsters are all really, really close, genuinely," Fish said. "So it's fun to sort of be alongside watching them, like I said, build something.

"I think they can win this competition multiple times, and there is no doubt in my mind that they're going to get over the top at some point, and hopefully soon."

 

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