The Bryan twins brought the United States within one win of staying in the elite group of Davis Cup. Now it's up to Andy Roddick or James Blake to complete the job against Belgium.
Bob and Mike Bryan won yesterday's doubles, 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-3, against Olivier Rochus and the outmatched Kristof Vliegen, giving the Americans a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series entering reverse singles in Leuven, Belgium.
"To win the doubles at 1-1 is huge," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said. "It gives ourselves a lot of momentum."
Today, Roddick will face 31st-ranked Rochus as he goes for his second singles victory. Rochus will be playing his third match in three days.
"Andy is going to be very motivated to finish it off," McEnroe said. "I feel good about our chances."
If the No. 3-ranked Roddick fails, the series will come down to Blake against Olivier's older brother, Christophe Rochus. The Americans will be relegated from the World Group for the first time in 17 years if they lose both matches.
The United States, which has won 31 Davis Cup titles, is out of contention this year. The field has been narrowed to the semifinals: Argentina at Slovakia and Russia at Croatia. Slovakia and Croatia won doubles matches Saturday and lead 2-1. . . .
Maria Sharapova quit because of a chest injury while trailing in the China Open semifinals in Beijing, sending Russia's Maria Kirilenko into the title match against Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
Kirilenko, ranked 45th, was ahead 6-4, 2-1 and "very surprised" when Sharapova stopped. The decision by the top-ranked Russian prompted boos from the crowd at a tournament beset by injuries.
Sharapova said a muscle on the right side of her chest is inflamed, causing recurring pain. The problem began in Zurich last October, and she said a switch to heavier balls in that tournament may have been a factor.
* RUNNING: Australia's Craig Mottram won the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York, pulling away from premier American miler Alan Webb in the final quarter mile.
Mottram finished in 3 minutes 49.9 seconds in the run that began at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and ended at the foot of Central Park. Webb finished at 3:51.4 in his road-race debut in the 20-block dash down one of Manhattan's most fashionable stretches. Elkanah Angwenyi of Kenya took third in 3:54.3.
Canada's Carmen Douma-Hussar, the world indoor silver medalist, won the women's race in 4:28, edging Americans Amy Rudolph (4:28.5) and Treniere Clement (4:28.7).
* BASKETBALL: Dirk Nowitzki's basket with 3.9 seconds left lifted Germany to the final of the European Championship with a 74-73 win over Spain in Belgrade.
Germany will face Greece, which rallied to beat France, 67-66, on a three-pointer by Dimitrios Diamantidis. The win sends Greece into its first tournament final since 1989. Greece won its only European title at home in 1987, while Germany was the 1993 champion.
"Tomorrow will be the most important game in my life," said Nowitzki, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks.
Nowitzki finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, going 5 for 10 from three-point range.
* PRO FOOTBALL: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Duce Staley has been upgraded from questionable to probable after practicing all week and is expected to play today against the New England Patriots.
Staley has not played since the Steelers' 41-27 loss to New England in the AFC championship game in January. He practiced only the first day of training camp before needing knee surgery Aug. 8, and practiced little until last week.
-- From News Services