NEWS

Ten years and 14 Slams later, the Bryans have come a long way

June 9, 2013 09:44 AM
With their victory in Paris, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan became the first men's doubles team to have won each major on two occasions.
By Matt Cronin, special to USTA.com
 
PARIS – When Bob and Mike Bryan won their first Grand Slam title together, in 2003, they pulled an all-nighter partying. A decade later, when they won their 14th major crown in Paris, they were planning on ordering room service with their wives and putting Bob and his spouse Michelle’s toddler daughter Micaela to bed.
 
"I remember we went straight to Buddha Bar and partied hard there," Mike said of a popular Paris spot. "Had a great dinner. We were all just grooving, eating our food and just rocking to the beat. We went to VIP, a big place on the Champs Élysées and we were there until probably 6 in the morning. What time was our photo shoot? [Probably] 7, 8 in the morning? We're all just has haggard. Our eyes are bloodshot. We went to the [hotel], got the trophies and went straight to the Arc and took some just horrible pictures in front of the Arc. 
 
"That was 10 years ago. Probably tonight's going to be a little different. We can't absorb those hard nights anymore."
 
The twins have now won three straight Grand Slams titles (after winning the Australian Open in January and the 2012 US Open) and are next headed to the tournament in Queen’s and then onto Wimbledon, where they’ll continue their pursuit of the calendar-year Grand Slam and history.
 
No men's doubles team in the Open Era has accomplished the feat and just one doubles team, Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951, has ever won the calendar-year Slam. Should the Bryans win the title at the All England Club, they will also be the first team in the Open Era to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time (the last to do it were McGregor and Sedgman, 1951-52).
 
They have a home base in London now, where they took a two-week break in between the tournaments at Monte Carlo and Madrid. Mike’s wife, Lucille, is British and they all have settled nicely into European life as they have been on the continent for nearly two months now.
 
Perhaps that is the reason why they have become such standout clay-court performers: They know the ropes of living and succeeding during the European clay-court swing, where they also won titles in Madrid and Rome.
 
In the French Open final, they overcame France’s Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut in a Davis Cup-style atmosphere, where the home fans were screaming in an attempt to pull their team through. But the Bryans have won plenty of away Davis Cup ties before, and when the match came down to a third-set tie-break, they came up huge – just when it looked like they might have to walk away without the title for the 10th straight year.
 
"This is the first one we won back in the day and [it] kind of launched our career," Mike said after their 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) victory, where they rallied from 4-2 down in the tie-break. "This is the toughest Slam to win, I think. Clay is an equalizer and makes a lot of teams better. You have got to be mentally strong for a couple of weeks. And it was tough [in the final], just to grind it out being down 4 2 in the breaker."
 
Back in 2003, when the Bryan were still trying to make their mark as an elite team, they were still counting Euros, even though they already had a few Masters Series titles in their pockets. They even slept on the floor at of the hotel where the junior players stayed.
 
"The lights, I remember you walk down the hall and it's all like motion sensors, so it would be dark and it could be light and then be dark behind you," Bob recalled. "It was just kind of a creepy roach motel." 
 
Mike said that the reason why they slept on the floor was because the beds were so uncomfortable. There was only one restaurant in the area, a Chinese place, which served, in Bob’s opinion, horrendous food. 
 
"We were the only people eating in that restaurant, and we had a Dave Matthews CD," Bob recalled. "We would hand it to the lady when we walked in. She would play us tunes and we would eat that kung pao chicken. I think we lost like 10 pounds each because the food was so bad. We were getting so skinny and losing power on our shots. We had nothing left."
 
Still, they managed to win the tournament – and the rest is history. They now own a record 89 team titles and they have finished as year-end No. 1s on eight occasions. In Paris, the Bryans became the first men’s doubles team to complete a career Grand Slam twice. The number 14 means quite a bit in U.S. tennis circles, as it is the same numeral that Pete Sampras owns when it comes to Grand Slam singles title – the second most of all time (to Roger Federer’s 17).
 
"It was a big number," Mike said. "We never thought we'd get to the teens. I mean, we were just trying to get over one and then – it's been a good 10 years. I think 24 Grand Slam finals in 10 years is great. We lost a bunch of them early and we have won a bunch late. You never fathom that you're going to hit that many Slams, and add a gold [medal at the Olympics] to it. It's just been kind of a fairytale."
  
Now the twins, who split a $466,000 winner’s check, can afford to pay more than $900 dollars per night a night for a suite at a top Paris hotel. Life, and winning, is good for the Bryan brothers.
 
"We have the formula for winning Grand Slam titles, and we're not trying to do anything crazy," Mike said. "We have that confidence."
 
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