(L-R) Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan pose with the trophy after their men's doubles final match against Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic on September 7, 2012 at the 2012 US Open.
|Mike Bryan, Bob Bryan, and Bob's 31-week old daughter, Micaela,
meet the press after the brothers won a record 12th Grand Slam
men's doubles title at the 2012 US Open on Friday, September 7.
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. – Little did anyone know, Bob Bryan had his 2012 Olympic gold medal on the court while he and his twin, Mike, were winning the US Open men’s doubles title on Friday. It was their 12th Grand Slam tournament title – an Open-era record for men’s doubles.
In a rematch of the 2012 Australian Open final (which the Bryans lost), the 34-year-old brothers defeated Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, on a clear, humid day in New York.
After the victory, Bob took the gold medal out of his tennis bag and tossed it to a courtside friend whom he knew “has good hands.” When asked about the gesture in a press conference, Bob produced the medal again and offered to toss it to the inquiring journalist.
“It’s a brick,” Bob said before letting it go. “Pass it around,” he added.
The Bryans’ victory not only allowed them to split $420,000 prize money, it also tied them with the Australian duo of John Newcombe and Tony Roche as the all-time doubles Grand Slam leaders.
In the Open Era, however, the Bryans are now the undisputed kings of men’s doubles. The Open Era began in 1968 when professionals were allowed to compete with amateurs and for the past 12 years, Australia’s Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde reigned with 11 major titles.
“We looked up to the Woodies,” Mike said. “To steal all their records is unbelievable because we idolized those guys. They’re one of the reasons we play doubles. Just to be mentioned with [them] is pretty special.”
Yet the Bryans almost made Friday’s final look easy. While Paes and Stepanek had 29 winners (compared to the Bryans’ 22), they also had 22 unforced errors (while the Bryans had just six) during the 91-minute match.
“They were all over us on our serves,” explained Stepanek, a two-time Olympian who was competing in his 12th tournament with Paes. “They made it difficult for us.”
After the match, Paes asked the crowd to give the Bryans a standing ovation – a significant sign of respect from the six-time Olympian and 1996 singles bronze medalist.
After hoisting the trophy, Bob pulled out his Olympic gold medal and gave it the now-famous toss – but it wasn’t the first time he’d shared the magic of his Olympic disc.
“I actually let [golfer] Sergio Garcia wear it in Cincinnati,” Bob said. “Then he went: win, third, and made 1.5 million bucks in two weeks. So I think it’s good luck.”
The Bryans have now won at least one Grand Slam title each of the past eight years, but even if they had lost on Friday, Mike said, “It still would have been a good year because we still had [London].”
In London, the Bryans weren’t the only siblings to take doubles gold. The Williams sisters won their third Olympic gold medal together.
Asked to explain the common thread, Bob said, “I think parents have the formula, and they figure out an environment that breeds success. Why wouldn’t the other sibling be successful in the same environment? We had parents that didn’t come down hard on us for wins and losses, but instilled good sportsmanship and made sure we were having fun. They were taking us to exhibitions – Indian Wells, Great Western Forum – to make sure we saw that level and we had dreams.”
Soon Bob’s 31-week old daughter, Micaela, joined him at the head of the press conference and fit perfectly inside the large silver bowl awarded to the US Open doubles winners.
As far as siblings go, Bob said, “Venus and Serena are a pretty inspirational pair. They’re always positive with each other. They love each other to death. You’ve never seen them have a spat. You know, we’re a little more violent with each other behind closed doors than those two, so we try to use them as example,” he said, laughing.
Next, the Bryans will represent the U.S. in the Davis Cup semifinals against host Spain, on clay, September 14-16. They also want to keep playing through the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“The short term goal,” Bob said, “is to win that Davis Cup match because that’s going to be pivotal. I don’t think our team has a great chance if we don’t win that doubles match. We’re leaving tomorrow night. We’re going to get there a week early.
After that, Bob said, “We want to finish the year No. 1; It would be our eighth No. 1 finish. Then Mike’s going to get married. See how that goes.”
With lightning speed, Mike volleyed back, “Start working on your speech.”
And soon, the baby was removed from of the trophy, the gold medal was placed back in the bag, and the ever-entertaining Bryan show left the arena.
Aimee Berg is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.