Bob and Mike Bryan are looking to win their second career French Open title.
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By Matt Cronin, special to USTA.com
PARIS, France - Bob and Mike Bryan love Europe, so much that they have not gone home since they flew to Monte Carlo for the United States' Davis Cup quarterfinal win over France in early April.
Bob has brought along his wife Michelle and his new baby daughter Micaela, while Mike is accompanied by his fiancé, Lucille.
It's an all in the family theme as the Bryans go for their second Roland Garros title and their first since 2003.
"It's nice. A lot of the American guys are allergic to staying over here for a long time," Mike said after their 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 quarterfinal win over Oliver Marach and Horacio Zeballos. "But we like it. As long as you've got fast Wi-Fi and you find a nice go-to restaurant that week and a nice city. We've been in Madrid, three weeks in Monte Carlo and Nice. You can't beat Paris. All you're missing is the NBA playoffs."
It's been nine years since the Bryan raised their first major trophy when they beat former French Open singles champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov and former Grand Slam doubles winner Paul Haarhuis for the title.
"Crazy, it goes by so quick,'' Mike said. "In nine years, we had a lot of shots at it. I think we're playing just as good as we were back then. Probably better."
Micaela -- who has become a bit of a celebrity in the players' lounge and has had her picture taken with a number of players, including Roger Federer-- was born just after the Australian Open. Bob skipped the U.S. Davis Cup Team's first round tie against Switzerland as a result, but his wife and daughter came to Europe in the second week of April during Monte Carlo and they have settled in just fine.
"The baby's doing great, Bob said. "From the start of this trip, she couldn't even hold the rattle and now she's waving [it] back and forth. Just the difference in her development has been amazing. She's really progressed since we've been over there. It's cool, and that's what I didn't want to miss, those little moments. That's why she's over here the whole time."
New parents can easily become distracted, and for good reason: it's hard to ignore a cheery, cute baby if you have never parented one before. In fact, even if you have had children, it is still difficult to not to focus on a smiling infant.
Bob says that he can still keep his focus on court, but has had to cut other things out of his life.
"It's just I haven't been able to play as much keyboard, or iPhone video games or whatever," he said. " It's a lot of fun. I want to get back to the hotel and play with her."
Mike has been helping out, which is not surprising given how close the twins are. He looks a but different at Roland Garros as he has let his beard grow, but he said he was going to shave it before Tuesday night's ITF World Champions dinner where they were to be honored once again.
It's been a reasonably good clay court season for the Bryans, as they won their match in Davis Cup, took the title in Monte Carlo and won the crown in Nice the week before Roland Garros began. But it hasn’t been totally rosy.
Bob got sick at the tournament n in Barcelona and they had to pull out and consequently the lost their No.1 ranking to Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi.
They lost an 18-16 super tiebreaker to Jean-Julien Rojer and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in Madrid, and then were upset in the second round of Rome, so they made a last minute decision to take a wild card into Nice and it has paid off as they have won their last eight matches.
"It was a last-minute decision and I thought it was really smart," Bob said. "And we got a roll going, we got the momentum, we got the confidence, and now we're here in the semis. We needed more matches. We've only played 30 something. We're pretty low compared to other years. We're usually in the 40s by this stage."
Since their 2003 title run, the Bryans have been in the mix a number of times at Roland Garros, falling in two straight finals in 2005 and 2006 to the excellent team of Jonas Bjorkman and Mirnyi, taking three consecutive three set losses from 2007-2009, and then losing tough two-setters to two South American teams in 2010 and 2011: Marcelo Mello and Bruno Sores of Brazil, and Juan Cabal of Colombia and Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.
They will get a chance at revenge on Rojer and Qureshi in the semis and then might have chance to take the top spot back from Nestor and Mirnyi in the final. They are going for record 12th Grand Slam title, and what better place to do it than where they started collecting the big hardware.
"We're comfortable hitting groundstrokes," Mike said. "We're not a fish out of water from the baseline, so we like our chances there. Obviously our games are to get to the net and to control the next but if we do get stuck on the baseline, we're fine."