SAO PAULO (AP) — Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo defeated Marc Lopez and David Marrero 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 to give Brazil a 2-1 lead over Spain in a Davis Cup playoff on Saturday, leaving the five-time champions in danger of dropping to zonal play for the first time since 1996.
Brazil had key breaks late in all three sets to clinch the victory in 2 hours, 35 minutes at the Ibirapuera indoor arena. The hosts broke for 5-3 in the first set, and held on after going up 6-5 in the last two.
“We were practically perfect when we needed,” Soares said. “We know we can win this series, we believe in our team, and we will fight until the end. We need only one more point tomorrow.”
Without Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, Spain needs to win both reverse singles on Sunday to remain in the World Group next year. Roberto Bautista Agut, the team’s best-ranked player at No. 15, will face Brazil No. 1 Thomaz Bellucci, while Pablo Andujar plays Rogerio Dutra Silva if the tie goes to a decider.
“We would rather be up 2-1 but I still have all the confidence in our team,” Spain captain Carlos Moya said. “Both of our players are capable of winning their matches in the final day.”
Brazil is trying to return to the World Group for only the second time since 2003.
Spain has been the dominant team in the last decade with four titles.
The doubles featured in-form specialists. Soares was coming off the mixed doubles title at the U.S. Open last week with Sania Mirza of India, while Lopez was runner-up in the men’s doubles final with countryman Marcel Granollers. Melo was a semifinalist.
On Friday, Bautista Agut beat Silva, and Bellucci rallied from two sets down to beat Andujar.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://www.twitter.com/tazzoni
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.