MADRID, Spain Doubles players Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan did their part to keep the United States' hopes of defending their Davis Cup title alive against Spain on Saturday.
Now it's Andy Roddick's turn.
Fish and Bryan rallied to beat Spanish duo Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to give the U.S. its first semifinals point on the clay at Las Ventas bullfighting arena after being swept in Friday's singles play.
With Spain leading 2-1 and looking to reach its sixth final, the pressure falls squarely on Roddick and his decisive match against Nadal in the first reverse singles rubber on Sunday.
"I'm not worried. (Andy) knows what he has to do, he's been in this position many times before," U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe said.
The U.S. has won the Davis Cup 32 times but has only rallied back from a 1-2 deficit five times. A Roddick victory would make fifth-ranked David Ferrer's match against Sam Querrey the decisive one. The winning team will face either Argentina or Russia, with the Argentines leading their semifinal in Buenos Aires 2-1.
Roddick is 10-4 when playing the fourth match in Davis Cup play. But he has never beaten a player ranked higher than him in three previous tries.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old Nebraska native will have to contend with not only the four-time French Open champion but a raucous 21,000 fans who are welcoming Nadal back this weekend for the first time since he won Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal.
"Rafa worries me a lot more than the crowd. I think Andy probably feels the same way," McEnroe said. "We're playing the best clay court player in the world, but he's got a chance."
Roddick exchanged words with Spain captain Emilio Sanchez Vicario toward the end of his five-set defeat to Ferrer on Friday following some jeering from the crowd, which McEnroe has also found overly respectful.
"The public has been very well-behaved," Sanchez Vicario said. "Perhap Roddick is used to winning the games when he reaches the fifth set, so I don't think that's a matter of the public.
"If tomorrow he's thinking of the public I think that's a mistake, he needs to think about Rafa."
McEnroe said the emotional Roddick will be ready, even with a career 2-3 record against the Spaniard, including a loss to the then 18-year-old Nadal in the final at Seville four years ago.
"Sure he got a little frustrated in the fifth against Ferrer, but he's a competitor, that's normal. He has to stay calm," McEnroe said.
Sanchez Vicario said Nadal was still fatigued following a career season that has seen him play 100 matches nearly twice as many as Roddick and 24 more than closest competitor James Blake.
"At the end of the U.S. Open he was very tired. Now, two weeks later, I think he's more tired," Sanchez Vicario said. "But he's been recuperating. He'll have another tough day tomorrow, but maybe there will be rain, which would give him an extra day to to rest."
In Saturday's crucial doubles match, Spain took advantage of the American pair's shaky serve early on to register the first break point and first set.
But Spain didn't capitalize in the second set with Verdasco sending two breakpoint chances wide before Bryan served out for a 4-3 lead in the second set.
Fish, a last-minute replacement after Mike Bryan's twin, Bob, pulled out with a shoulder injury, clinched the second set before Bryan's backhand brought the key break on the way to securing the third set.
"Mardy made some big moves at the end that kind of saved my butt," said Bryan, playing without Bob for the first time in 16 Davis Cup matchups.
The U.S. looked set to close it out when Verdasco floated a backhanded volley long for an early break in the fourth set, but Fish netted Lopez's forehand to force the decisive fifth set.
Lopez volleyed a backhand long in the fifth set to give the U.S. its fourth and final break.
Despite landing only 56 percent of first serves, the U.S. closed out the match when Fish served the pair's seventh ace.
"It's a great way to get back into it," Fish said of his first Davis Cup match since the 2004 final. "I'm just happy to get one more shot regardless of whether I get to play again. I'm happy to fill in when I can."
The Americans also won the doubles over Spain in the 2004 final, but the Spanish went on to win their second title.