Bryan boys strike a blow for the lost art
American brothers finish their own Slam
Sunday 09 July 2006
The Bryan twins slap hands high-five style after every point, win or lose. When they win a really big point they chest-pump, jumping up in the air to bounce off each other's torsos. It's an American thing. So it was no surprise to see Mike Bryan jump into brother Bob's arms when the 28year-old Californians celebrated the biggest point of their careers to become only the third pair in the history of Open tennis to complete a career Grand Slam of doubles titles.
Having won the French in 2003, the US Open last year and the Australian in January, they completed their glory trail with a thoroughly convincing 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over Tahiti-born Frenchman Fabrice Santoro and Nenad Zimonjic, born, bred and resident of Belgrade.
Along with the glory and their trophies, the Bryans went up to the royal box where they also shared a winner's cheque for £220,690. Although slightly irritating to watch in their hyperactive manner and 10-strong whooping entourage sporting lime green "Bryan Bunch" T-shirts, they are said to be among the most popular players on the tour and have dedicated their careers to the art of doubles.
Their success really kicked in when they took the brave decision to swap sides on court a few years ago. Unusually for doubles, they now line up with left-handed Bob on the right.
The Bryans dominated except for the second set when Santoro and Zimonjic briefly lived up to their status as No 6 seeds and tried to add to the win in their only previous meeting, in January. But the Bryans, who were taken to an 11-9 fifth and final set in the first round, finally showed why they were seeded No 1 and are the world's best doubles team. They were pumped up, aggressive and subtle when they needed to be. Bob played one of the cutest shots of the Championships when, forced wide and out of court, he hit a winning shot past the net post, about a foot above the ground.
Bob then had about 45 minutes to prepare for his mixed-doubles final, partnering Venus Williams against Israel's Andy Ram and Russian Vera Zvonareva, leaving Mike alone on centre stage. He said: "When I meet people, they say, 'Have you won Wimbledon?' They don't say, 'Have you won the US Open?' I hate to say, 'Yeah, lost in the finals'. It's gonna be pretty sweet to say, 'We're Wimbledon champions'. We've been thinking about this career Slam since we won the US Open and the Australian back to back. This was the last one to get."
Bob was not so impressive in the mixed. He was the weakest link as last year's singles champion Williams went home a loser on finals day. The Israel-Russia alliance was very impressive and raced to a 6-3 6-2 victory. Bryan was then left with the tricky task of telling Venus he had decided to snub her in favour of Martina Navratilova's farewell at the US Open mixed next month. Telling her that brother Mike was willing to fill the void might have softened the blow. Although Mike missed out on a share of another £90,000, he still had every right to celebrate a good day's work.
There is big celebration planned in Denmark this week. Caroline Wozniacki will probably have a cracking 16th birthday party on Tuesday. She already has the perfect present to show off to her friends, the Wimbledon Girls' Singles Championship trophy.
The 15-year-old plans to graduate to the women's tour after playing the juniors at the US Open next month. She is a leggy blonde, who already stands nearly 6ft tall and boasts four main sponsors. But she has based her game on the touch and talent of her idol Martina Hingis rather than the big power-hitters of the modern game. And the No 4 seed displayed a full array of shots in a 3-6 6-1 6-3 win against gallant Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova.
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