MELBOURNE (AFP) - Bob and Mike Bryan gave the United States a crucial edge in their Davis Cup World Group tie with a thrilling five-set doubles win over the Lleyton Hewitt-inspired Australians at Kooyong on Saturday.
The 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions looked to be cruising to victory, breezing through the opening two sets before Hewitt and debutant John Peers fought their way into a fifth set.
But the American twins proved too strong in the deciding set, winning 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in 2hr 30min to give their team a vital 2-1 lead in the best-of-five rubber tie.
Jim Courier's Americans can wrap up the first-round tie on Kooyong's grass court with just one more victory in Sunday's reverse singles through their top-rated John Isner or Jack Sock.
Hewitt came out of his short-lived retirement to play in his 42nd Davis Cup tie, replacing Sam Groth from the nominated doubles combination and the gamble looked like paying off as he and Peers seized the momentum and took the match into a fifth set.
But the Bryans finished clinically, breaking Peers's opening service game to lead 2-0 and then rolled through the final set in just 26 minutes to sweep to victory. It took the accomplished Bryan brothers' record in the Davis Cup team competition to 24-4 in the doubles since their debut for their country in 2003.
Bernard Tomic will attempt to keep the home tie alive when he takes on world No.11 Isner in the first of the reverse singles on Sunday.
Hewitt will then have a big decision to make as to whether he plays the big-serving but out-of-form Groth, who faded away in straight sets to Isner on Friday, or put himself forward in the potential tie-deciding singles match against Sock.