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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.

Matteo Berrettini breaks through on grass to win Stuttgart Open

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STUTTGART, Germany — Matteo Berrettini beat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6 (11) to win the Stuttgart Open and his third tour-level title on Sunday.

The Italian saved five set points in a second-set tiebreaker and clinched his first title on grass. His other titles came at Budapest in April, and Gstaad, Switzerland, last year.

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime previously reached championship matches in Rio de Janeiro in February and the Lyon Open in May – both on clay.

Berrettini won all 50 of his service games during the week in Stuttgart. He did not face a break point against Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime progressed to the final in his first professional grass tournament without playing Saturday as compatriot Milos Raonic withdrew ahead of their semifinal due to back problems.

Playing on two surfaces, Vekic reaches Nottingham semis

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NOTTINGHAM, England — Former champion Donna Vekic finally got to play on grass at the Nottingham Open on Friday but had to overcome multiple rain delays and another switch indoors before reaching the semifinals.

The second-seeded Vekic defeated Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-4 in a match played on two surfaces as rain again played havoc with the schedule.

The opening two days were completely washed out before organizers decided to switch the first and second rounds indoors as rain fell for four consecutive days.

Vekic, who won the tournament in 2017, will play Germany’s Tatjana Maria in her third straight semifinal in Nottingham. Maria earlier defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 7-6 (7) in the only match completed on grass so far at the tournament.

Also Friday, American Jennifer Brady defeated fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 6-3 to set up a semifinal against top-seeded Caroline Garcia.

Garcia rallied to beat Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in the last quarterfinal.