Notebook: Fed Cuppers Oust France; Bryan Bros. Rock SF

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With a pair of rise-to-the-occasion wins in singles, Melanie Oudin led the U.S. to a 4-1 downing of France on Sunday, earning Mary Joe Fernandez’s underdog U.S. team a trip to the Fed Cup semis. Following up on her 6-4, 6-4 win over Pauline  Parmentier on Saturday, the 18-year-old Oudin scored the clincher by defeating Julie Coin 7-6(3), 6-4, giving the Williams-less U.S. contingent an insurmountable 3-0 lead on the indoor clay of Lievin, France.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands stepped her game up, too, edging Alize Cornet in singles 7-6(7), 7-5 before joining Liezel Huber for a 6-2, 6-3 win over Cornet/Stephanie Cohan-Aloro in doubles.  Sub Christina McHale suffered the only U.S. loss of the weekend when she came up short against Parmentier in a dead-rubber encounter.

The U.S. will next face Russia in the April 24-25 semis.  Russia advanced with a 3-2 win over Serbia — a tie in which the slumping Ana Ivanovic failed to secure a single point in three matches.  The Czech Republic topped Germany 3-2 to reach the semis, and will now meet Italy, a 4-1 winner over Ukraine.

BRYAN BROS. ROCK SAN FRANCISCO

There have always been rock stars who’ve dreamed of a career as a tennis pro.  (Led Zeppelin icon Robert Plant reportedly took a few lessons from Pat Cash, and Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale has an acute case of Federer-envy.)  And there have long been tennis pros who’ve dreamed of a career as a rock star.  (See Mr. McEnroe, the Jensen Bros., drummer/commentator Jim Courier, even Mats Wilander.)

Some have even turned that dream into a reality.  Yannick Noah is one of them.  And now you can add SoCal twins Bob and Mike Bryan to that list.

David Baron, the front-and-center presence of the Bryan Brothers Band — featuring righty Mike on Fender Strat and lefty Bob on keys — stood in the spotlight of San Francisco’s Café du Nord on Saturday night and officially introduced his bandmates to the City by the Bay.

“There are two individuals here who just went to Australia and won the MOTHER F—ING AUSTRALIAN OPEN!!!!!”

To which the wall-to-wall denizens of the Market Street basement haunt bellowed their overwhelming approval, among them a host of former Stanford teammates and coaches, including Paul Goldstein and current Cardinal skipper John Whitlinger.  The Bryan Bros., who only days prior had dispatched Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3 in Melbourne to win their eighth Slam title and now trail Aussies Mark Woodforde/Todd Woodbridge by just three Slams, released a four-song debut CD in September and were in town to rock out prior to their appearance at the Feb. 8-14 SAP Open in San Jose.

To the surprise of many, the group opened with the omnipresent Black Eyed Peas hit “I Gotta Feeling.”

“I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night…”

And the Bryans made good on their promise, playing a mix of originals and covers that kept the dance floor (led by a gathering of hardcore tennis groupies, one of whom insisted on waving a tennis racket high in the air throughout the show) jumping.  And while neither Mike nor Bob are headed for Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame any time soon, they have managed to bridge the gap between tennis and music.

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