Teaming for only the second time, Fish and Bryan comfortably handled the 2008 Olympic doubles champions in front of an occasionally hostile Swiss crowd of 7,000.
“This is probably going down as one of the most memorable (wins),” said Bryan, who played on the 2007 winning team.
The doubles victory gave the Americans a 3-0 lead in the best-of-five, first-round series. They advanced to the quarterfinals in April when they again will be on the road—against France or Canada.
The U.S. was kept under control for a set and a half, then seized every opportunity to exploit errors on Wawrinka’s serve. The crowd got angry when Bryan hit Federer and Wawrinka with volleys at close range later in the match.
“They did really well and got the victory they deserved,” Federer said. “We did have our chances but maybe they were just a touch better than us again today.”
Swiss captain Severin Luethi dismissed suggestions his team underestimated the Americans’ ability to adapt to a clay court, although one that played faster than expected at Fribourg’s altitude of about 2,000 feet.
Fish and Bryan picked up the momentum from Friday’s thrilling singles matches when John Isner stunned Federer in four sets and Fish outlasted Wawrinka in five.
“Our attitude remained strong all the while and we were ready for whatever,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said. “That is what you need for any road tie.”
In the seven other first-round series in the World Group, three other nations completed 3-0 sweeps Saturday: Czech Republic (vs. Italy), Spain (vs. Kazakhstan) and Argentina (vs. Germany). Ahead 2-1 are Japan (vs. Croatia), Serbia (vs. Sweden) and Austria (vs. Russia). Canada and France are 1-1.
Bryan is a doubles specialist who usually plays with his twin brother. Bob Bryan, however, was unavailable because of the birth of his daughter last week. The only other time Fish and Mike Bryan played together was a five-set victory over Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in a 2008 semifinal in Madrid that Spain won 4-1.
Courier initially chose 19-year-old Ryan Harrison to play with Bryan at Thursday’s draw. But Davis Cup rules allow lineup changes up to one hour before a match.
“It’s great that the guy I have to tee it up with is the best doubles player ever,” said Fish, who won Friday in 4 hours, 26 minutes. “I’m just trying to do my part.”
Mike Bryan extended his exceptional record in Davis Cup doubles to 20-2, and is unbeaten in 11 away matches.
In a match of few break-point chances, the Swiss had an opportunity on Fish’s serve in the opening game when Wawrinka struck a winner. Federer served for the set, but the first chance was lost when Bryan’s forehand looped off the net cord for a winner.
That stroke of luck brought boos from some fans—a sign of tension in the sold-out arena after Friday’s surprising home defeats. Wawrinka’s angled volley winner created a second chance and Fish’s backhand went long.
The U.S. broke through in the sixth game of the second set when Wawrinka twice double-faulted and Fish hit a rare crosscourt winner from the baseline.
“We just had a couple of games where we struggled too much and couldn’t convert ourselves,” said Federer, who has lost three straight matches dating to his Australian Open semifinals defeat to Rafael Nadal two weeks ago.
The Americans seized on Wawrinka errors in the third set. The Swiss player hit back-to-back wayward volleys to drop serve.
Bryan angered the home fans in the next game when he made Federer yelp with pain with a forehand volley that struck his leg.
On Federer’s serve, the U.S. held two set points and Bryan’s volley down the middle split the Swiss pair. Bryan’s double-fist pump celebration drew more whistles from Swiss fans.
Bryan became the villain again when he struck Wawrinka in the midriff with a volley in the opening game of the fourth set. Bryan’s rapid apologies each time failed to quell the fans’ frustration.
“I wasn’t trying to hit anybody. It happens in doubles,” Bryan said. “The fans were looking to get into the match and I’ve seen it a hundred times in Davis Cup.”
Bryan repeated his victory dance when breaking Wawrinka to lead 3-1 in the fourth, firing a forehand winner into the open court after Federer volleyed back another net cord that favored the Americans.
The match ended on another Wawrinka error, his service return sailing long.