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Mike Bryan’s return from Davis Cup retirement helps keep U.S. alive

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ZADAR, Croatia — Doubles specialist Mike Bryan’s decision to come out of Davis Cup retirement gave the United States a much-needed lift.

Bryan teamed with Ryan Harrison for the first time and helped the Americans outlast Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 7-5, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5) over nearly five hours to cut Croatia’s lead to 2-1 in their semifinal on Saturday.

“It’s great to win one for the country – 7-6 in the fifth, on the road and on dirt – this is right up there and I will never forget this one,” Bryan said.

In Sunday’s reverse singles, sixth-ranked Marin Cilic faces Steve Johnson, and Borna Coric meets Davis Cup rookie Frances Tiafoe.

The winner on the outdoor clay court along the Dalmatian Coast will meet defending champion France in the Nov. 23-25 final. France beat Spain 3-0 in the other semifinal.

Mike Bryan and twin Bob retired from Davis Cup after the U.S. lost to Croatia in the 2016 quarterfinals. But Mike decided to return while enjoying a stellar season with interim partner Jack Sock.

Bryan and Sock won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. However, Sock hurt his hip during the U.S. Open run and was replaced by Harrison on the U.S. team.

While Bryan’s reflex volleys were decisive throughout the match, it was Harrison’s forehand return winner that sealed it on the Americans’ second match point – silencing a raucous crowd featuring fans banging drums and blaring trumpets.

The doubles result was welcome for a U.S. team that failed to win a set in the opening two singles on Friday.

The U.S. is missing its top two singles players – besides No. 17 Sock, No. 10 John Isner is home awaiting the birth of his child.

Osaka’s coach wins first WTA Coach of the Year award

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Sascha Bajin has been chosen as the first winner of the WTA Coach of the Year award after helping Naomi Osaka collect the U.S. Open title.

The women’s tennis tour announced its annual honors Monday.

The first season as a team for Bajin and Osaka produced her first WTA title at Indian Wells, then her first Grand Slam title in New York, where she beat Serena Williams in the final. Bajin used to work with Williams.

Bajin tweeted that he was “speechless and turning a bit red,” adding that it’s “easy to be a good coach when you have a great student.”

Petra Kvitova was given her sixth consecutive sportsmanship award and seventh overall, while Bethanie Mattek-Sands earned the player service award.

Mike, Bob Bryan set to reunite for doubles in Auckland

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) Mike and Bob Bryan are set to reunite as a doubles combination next month in New Zealand when the brothers begin their 21st season on the ATP Tour.

Bob Bryan has been sidelined since injuring his hip in the lead-up to the French Open, and Mike paired with fellow American Jack Sock to win the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles and the ATP Finals, taking the world No. 1 ranking on his own.

With Bob back to full fitness, the 40-year-old twins will reunite for the ASB Classic hardcourt tournament in Auckland before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

The Bryan brothers have won 114 doubles titles together, more than any other pairing, and have held the No. 1 doubles ranking jointly for 438 weeks. They have won 16 Grand Slam doubles titles together and a further 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles between them, adding an Olympic gold medal in 2012.

But they have yet to win a match in Auckland.

“We are stoked to be coming back to Auckland,” the brothers said in a joint statement.”We’ve got a bit of a point to prove.

“We’ve won 114 titles together but are yet to get the W in Auckland. We’ve got to change that. Here’s hoping 2019 can be our year.”