There is very little doubt it people’s minds that men’s tennis is currently in a golden era. When the men’s game has the best player of all times in Roger Federer, and the best clay court player of all times in Rafael Nadal, it is very difficult to think otherwise, especially since those two players have raised the bar very high for their rivals to surpass what they have accomplished.
In the last couple of years, Novak Djokovic has been able to raise to those new standards in a brilliant way, and Andy Murray has shown since the middle of last year that he is not to be left behind, putting in the hard work to get rid of his demons and finally showing why he has always deserved his place among the “Fantastic Four”.
However, only talking about the singles players when referring to this golden era of men’s tennis is doing a great injustice to the other part of tennis: the doubles.
For if Roger Federer is the singles GOAT (greatest of all times), the same can be said about Bob and Mike Bryan in doubles, and they showed why in the wee hours of the Australian Sunday morning, when they defeated Dutchmen Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling, 6-3 6-4, to win their 13th Grand Slam crown.
This title, their sixth in Australia, establish the Bryans as the doubles team with the most majors in the history of the game, passing the mark they were sharing John Newcombe and Tony Roche since the U.S. Open.
“It feels real good to have that record. To be a part of history is pretty special. We weren’t thinking about it much out there, but now that we have it, it’s going to be fun to look back on our career and say we have the most Grand Slams. It’s a big record, so we’re pretty excited about it.”
– Mike Bryan
At 34, the twins have obviously been together all their lives, and have brought team work to a whole new level as tennis players, and as a team, they make sure not to dwell on a difficult loss:
“We never really point fingers in tough situations. Everyone has their slumps. We usually say how we feel right away. We clear the air. Those feelings never really linger, so we’re able to bounce back pretty quick after a tough week.
Some teams will go to separate cities and talk a little smack about their partners and it might turn into something bigger.”
– Bob Bryan
“We never really think we’re that good. I mean, we’ve put our head down every day. We just don’t let each other slack off. If one guy is playing a little worse, the other guy is on him. We just don’t let our level drop.
We just let you guys talk about how good we are. We don’t really go, ‘We’re amazing’. We don’t go home and talk about our records. It’s fun to look at our trophies once in a while, but we’re always just trying to push the bar a little higher and get better.”
– Mike Bryan
Pushing the bar higher they indeed do. Overall, the American twins have now won 84 titles, including a Career Golden Slam, completed last year at the London Olympics, and have been in the top 3 of the ATP World Tour doubles rankings, without interruption, since July 2005.
Is there anything else the Bryans would like to achieve before they retire on top of their goal of finishing the season on top of the rankings? Yes, and their answer could be surprising for some:
“It would be nice to win another Davis Cup, to have a couple of those once we retire.”
– Mike Bryan
The California natives have also, in the past, mentioned that winning Indian Wells is something that they really would like to accomplish. Yet, to this date, it is one rare event that still eludes them.
Their dominance over the men’s doubles makes absolutely no doubt. They are, along with Canadian Daniel Nestor, part of a rare breed of doubles players, who can just win on any surface, at any moment, legends still in action.
Furthermore, the Bryans are among the most generous and accessible of the tennis stars, never hesitating to give back to community and fans whenever they have the chance.
In this tennis golden era, having not only the best singles player in the history of the game, but also the best doubles team in history, is a luxury that is not close to happening again in the near future. It is a luxury we all should enjoy while we can, and for as long as we can.
(Photos: Getty Images via Zimbio)