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Pro Tennis

Bryans mixing husband, father duties with success

January 20, 2013 08:05 PM
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are performing well facing the pressures of the Australian Open field as well as family life off the court.
By Matt Cronin, special to USTA.com
MELBOURNE -- Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are going for a record sixth Australian Open title this year, but life has changed once again for the 34-year-old twins.
Last year, right after they lost in the final to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, Bob rushed home to Florida so he could be there for the birth of his daughter, Micaela, who was born on Jan. 31. 
A few months after they became on the second men's doubles team to complete the career Golden Slam at the London Olympics and picked up their fourth US Open title, Mike married his longtime girlfriend Lucille Williams, who is British.
About 10 days ago, Bob and his wife, Michelle, packed up and headed to Sydney, where the brothers won their record 83rd career ATP title. For Bob, it’s no longer possible to stuff an oversized athletic bag with a bunch of gear and clothes and rush to the airport.
Now they start packing two days before they go. Bob ticked off a list including toys, a crib, a stroller, bibs, diapers and baby food. a
"It’s like moving every place we go. But Michelle has a great attitude about it,’ said Bob, after he and Mike edged Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot to move into the quarterfinals. "It’s amazing the amount of stuff we have. But we don't end up paying for bags because she’s so cute."
Bob wanted a girl, so he’s willing to tolerate the inside of their Florida home being very pink. He said he’d never spoil his child and feels he’s gotten off on the wrong foot.
"When we were kids we didn’t have toys at our house, we just had a few books. We’d run outside and do our thing," Bob said. "I told Michelle we aren’t going to spoil this kid and she said, ‘You just wait.’ Now every time I drive by Babies R Us I’m just pulling in. Our house is like a war zone of Fisher Price. It’s like Disneyland. I’m a sucker."
Bob and Mike and their father, Wayne, wrote a book called "Raising Your Child to Be a Champion in Athletics, Arts, and Academics," and the operative question now for Bob and his wife Michelle (who also played tennis as a kid) is whether or not they will eventually attempt to turn Micaela into a touring pro. Michelle loves tennis, but she didn’t have to go through a rigorous junior career like Bob did, so she might be more excited about driving their daughter from one tournament to the next than her husband is.
"Michelle is gung ho, ready to go but when I’m done with this I’ll probably want to simmer out a little," Bob said. "I don't want to be her coach, I want to separate parenting from coaching. I’ll let Mike do that. I’ll give her all the opportunities and whatever she wants to do, I’ll make it easy for her, but I don't want to be in the trenches with Micaela."
Bob says that his twin loves to play with Micaela, so it’s possible that Mike might want to start his own family soon. Like many players who have had children, Micaela has already taken the sting off of some of Bob’s losses.  As he said, she has no idea that’s he’s pro tennis player.
"You come back after tough match and see Micaela smiling and you realize that the tennis world is small in comparison to her," he said.
Even with their wives and Micaela around, the Bryans know they have their work cut out for them in Melbourne. At the US Open, they tied the mark set by Aussies John Newcombe and Tony Roche by raising 12th Grand Slam trophy.
Newcombe and Roche are both attending this Australian Open and it’s possible that they could hand over the winner’s trophy over the Bryans if the twins set another record and win No. 13 as a team.
"We’re really motivated," Bob said.  "We always want start off the year strong and we don’t want to get too far back in rankings to start the year. You want to show the other guys that you put in your work during the offseason." 
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For more coverage of American players at the 2013 Australian Open, see:


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