The U.S. Davis Cup team capped a tumultuous year with an immaculate tiebreaker and a joyous celebration that had captain Tom Gorman wanting to "roll around on the clay all day."
Rick Leach and Jim Pugh beat Australians Pat Cash and John Fitzgerald 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) to give the United States its first Davis Cup title since 1982.The doubles victory at the Suncoast Dome, following wins by Andre Agassi and Michael Chang in Friday's singles matches, left the heavily favored Americans with an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five finals.
A rally by Cash and Fitzgerald collapsed in the fourth set when Leach and Pugh broke serve for a 5-5 tie and then dominanted the tiebreaker.
"That was the immaculate tiebreaker," Pugh said. "Rick's last two serves were just unbelievable."
"That's the best tennis we've ever played," Leach said.
The U.S. team this year overcame distractions that included speculation about Gorman's future as captain, his strained relationship with Agassi and complaints by the Australians about the clay court playing surface and starting times for the finals.
"This has been an incredible year - a lot of things going on, a lot of emotion," Gorman said. "The end result is just unbelievable."
The Davis Cup crown was the 29th for the United States, most of any nation, but its first since a 4-1 victory over France in Grenoble eight years ago. Gorman, who played on the championship U.S. team in 1972, earned his first title since becoming captain in 1986.
"I'm not usually very emotional," Gorman said. "But I told these guys I wanted to roll around on the clay all day.
"Losing is the worst. This is the best."
Gorman said he didn't know whether he'll return as captain next year.
The difference in the doubles match was the dominating serves of Pugh and Leach. Cash and Fitzgerald converted only two of 15 break points, and none until the eighth game of the third set. Pugh twice saved service games after dodging four break points.
"A lot of the times they put good serves in and they played well when it counted," Cash said. "I think that was the difference."
The left-handed Leach was so in control that the Aussies frequently conceded the net on his first service by playing two-deep.