NEWS November 14, 2006
Hanley-Ullyett Qualify for Semifinals; Bryans Win Epic Encouter Over Damm-Paes
By Sandra Harwitt
In what turned into an extraordinarily entertaining match, Bob and Mike Bryan just eked out a 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-5) win over Martin Damm and Leander Paes on Tuesday at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.
Now at 1-1 in the round-robin competition, Bob and Mike Bryan have kept themselves in contention for a semifinal berth this weekend. In fact, all the doubles teams are still eligible to make the doubles semifinal and only one of the eight teams – Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett – have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the final four.
“It would have been good to win in straights,” Mike Bryan said. “It was a sticky second set. We had a few chances. A little upsetting to lose it, but made it more exciting. It's going to be a fun match to look back on.”
The Bryans easily handled Damm and Paes in the first set, but were dogged the whole way through the second set, eventually falling away in the tiebreaker.
After exchanging breaks in the middle of the third set, the match went down to a decisive third set tiebreaker. Initially, it seemed like the Americans would win it easily with a 4-1 lead, but Damm and Paes fought back to 5-5, a rally that found the two imitating the Bryan’s trademark chest bump for a point well played.
But two points later it was the Bryan’s doing the victory chest bump as they secured the match and left Damm and Paes with a 0-2 record in their group.
Hanley and Ullyett secured their 2-0 record – good enough to deliver them to the semifinals -- with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.
It wasn’t just that winning that pleased Hanley and Ullyett. It was that both felt they played top notch tennis during the match.
“I think today, personally, I don’t know about Paul, but I think it was definitely one of our best matches of the year,” said Ullyett, the Zimbabwean. “We converted on our breakpoints, and everything went our way.”
“I think we played really well,” said Hanley, who hails from Australia. “I think our attitude today was very good. I think that was the most important thing, was not the way we hit the ball, but our attitude on the court.
“We really gelled together today as a team, just our communication, just the feeling that we were getting from each other on the court.”
Neither Ullyett or Hanley lost their serve in the one hour, 20 minute match, and were successful in breaking serve on two of three occasions presented – they broke Ram’s serve in the third game of the first set and Erlich’s serve in the first game of the second set.
Hanley and Ullyett won five titles in this their debut season as a team, and also reached the semifinals at both the Australian Open and U.S. Open.
“We’ve had a very good year,” Hanley said. “It’s been a great year. If you look back at the results, it could have been even a fantastic, unbelievable year. But, you know, it still can be. There’s still one more tournament to go here. We’re hoping to finish off with a bang.”
Erlich and Ram now stand at 1-1 in the round-robin portion of the competition.