Bryan brothers ignore script but final Hewitt chapter may still be written

The Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob, obviously failed to read - or perhaps blatantly ignored - the script.

Here was Australia's proudest Davis Cup warrior, new captain Lleyton Hewitt, coming out of retirement and feverously fighting to guide his team to an improbable come-from-behind victory against the supposedly indomitable U.S doubles pairing.

Hewitt, his country's most successful Davis Cup player, had teamed up with debutant John Peers with the World Group first-round tie finely balanced at 1-1 in Melbourne.

Initially, Hewitt was only meant to be Australia's Plan C. He had supposedly retired five weeks previously, before being drafted into the four-man squad after an ill Nick Kyrgios withdrew. Then, after Friday's singles matches had been split, Hewitt made the call to replace Sam Groth, who had struggled in a three-set defeat to John Isner.

The Bryans may be brothers, but most Australians feel Hewitt is part of their family. The Kooyong crowd certainly welcomed him back on court with open arms - at one stage singing lyrics from U.S rapper Eminem's hit song Without Me ("guess who's back, back again"). Of course, the home fans didn't need to be reminded of Hewitt's presence, and nor did the visiting Americans.

Hewitt lived up to his nickname of 'Rusty' early in his comeback match. He dropped his serve twice in the first two sets, leaving some to wonder whether he'd made the right call to step up ahead of Groth.

But he soon rediscovered his range. With Peers playing a superb support role, the third and fourth sets were vintage Hewitt. Return after laser-like return whizzed past the Bryans, who were all at sea after being so commanding earlier.

After conceding a two-set head-start, the hometown duo was riding a wave of positive energy, and claimed the third and fourth sets. Surely another famous chapter in Hewitt's proud Davis Cup story was set to be written?

The record-breaking Bryans, though, had other ideas. They secured a vital early break in the deciding set, and as quickly as Hewitt and Peers had clawed their way back into the contest, it was over - the U.S had one foot in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

The Australian team all knew Hewitt would cut short his retirement once it became apparent Kyrgios wouldn't be fit to take his place. The U.S squad also suspected Hewitt's retirement would be short-lived. Having practised not far from the fanatical trainer in the lead-up to the event, Mike Bryan quipped the former world No.1 had "been playing more than anyone out there."

"No, (we weren't surprised at Hewitt's inclusion), not at all," he said after the gripping five-set win.

"He was practising 10 feet from us all week, playing lots of doubles, playing lots of singles, playing more than anyone out there. The guy is an accomplished doubles player and this is probably his best surface to play on."

Bob Bryan said the U.S team could feel Hewitt's presence.

"It was a great atmosphere, (and with) Lleyton being on the court, it notched it up a level," he said.

"When they won the fourth (set), it was pretty darn loud and I thought we did a good job to regroup."

For his part, Hewitt said he never second-guessed his decision to replace Groth.

"Not really," he said when asked whether he doubted his ability to play at such a high level.

"I hit a lot of balls this week anyway, I felt very comfortable with how I was hitting the ball, and I never doubted myself at all."

Peers, who defied his inexperience to shine on his home court, said Hewitt was a calming, yet motivating partner.

"It was an amazing experience," the Melburnian said.

"We all see what he's done over the years and what he's done for Australian tennis and world tennis. He's led the way for Davis Cup in Australia for many years, and it was an honour to share the court with him."

Having overcome one Hewitt comeback match, the visitors are bracing for another. U.S captain Jim Courier said he wouldn't be surprised if the 35-year-old took it upon himself to play a decider against Jack Sock, should Bernard Tomic defeat Isner early on Sunday.

"The way Lleyton played, I would think he would give himself consideration should there be a fifth live match, so we'll be ready for that eventuality if it comes to pass," he said.

It would be a very Hewitt-like thing to do if the veteran put the onus on himself in a fifth and deciding match. And it would be a very Hewitt-like thing to do if he won another Davis Cup tie for his country.

"Possibly," was all a drained Hewitt would say when asked about extending his playing career for one more day.

As they say, you're a long time retired. Most of the time.