The 32-year-old identical twins, who move in sync on the court and finish each other’s sentences off it, yesterday tied the professional career men’s record for team doubles titles at 61 by beating Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4 in the finals of the Madrid Masters.
“It’d be great to achieve that goal this year,” Bob Bryan, the younger twin by two minutes, said in an interview in the players’ lounge of the Monte Carlo Masters at the start of the European clay court season.
After 12 years on the men’s tour, winning titles and breaking records is the only thing that counts for the 2009 men’s doubles world champions, who won their eighth Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open in January.
“When we go to a tournament, we expect to win,” said Bob. “That’s the bottom line. If we don’t win, we’d be pretty disappointed. It’s not like, ‘Oh I’m in the semis, that’s such a great week.’ A win is really the only kind of joy that we get out of the tour.”
The Bryan brothers finished last year as the top-ranked doubles team after winning seven titles, including the Australian Open and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, and were unbeaten for the U.S. in Davis Cup play. They’ve already won five tournaments this year and will today regain the No. 1 spot on the men’s doubles team rankings from Nestor and Zimonjic.
No. 1 Goal
“We have goals to win and to finish No. 1 every year,” Mike Bryan said as he sat next to his brother.
The Bryans have not only been winning on the court, they’ve also been successful at the bank. Although they aren’t as well- paid as top-ranked Roger Federer in singles -- the Swiss has won a record $55 million in career prize money -- the brothers combined have made more than $13 million. They also earn money from endorsements with sunglass brand Oakley, tennis racket manufacturer Prince and athletic footwear company K-Swiss Inc.
Their profile in the U.S. was lifted recently by a feature on CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes.” They’ve also been featured in non-sports publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker.
“It’s amazing that we’re gaining more attention at this age then we were when we were 24 years and we won a Slam and we were fresh-faced and no one knew anything about us,” said Mike.
“Davis Cup has raised our profile a lot,” said Bob. “Just playing on TV. TV is a different deal, that’s what makes stars. Andy Roddick plays on TV every match. Playing Davis Cup, we get that TV match. You get to be in the magazines with Roddick and James Blake, you know, superstars, that’s helped us.
Roddick was the last American man to win a Grand Slam singles title, at the 2003 U.S. Open, and is the only U.S. male in the top 10.
“And maybe some of these Americans not doing as well as in the past, that’s helped us out in our deals, like appearance fees,” Bob said.
A crowd of about 200 at a side court of the Monte Carlo Country Club gasped earlier in the day as the Bryans moved together instinctively in a second-round win over Australian Open singles runner-up Andy Murray and Ross Hutchins of Britain. They cheered as the brothers retrieved four smashes from Murray in a single rally. When Murray finally won the point and let out a roar, the fans rose to give the players a standing ovation.
The twins weren’t allowed to play against each other by their parents when they were growing up. They now live in the same house, in Wesley Chapel, Florida, play in the same band and travel together on the ATP World Tour.
At 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) and 202 pounds (92 kilograms), the left-handed Bob is an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the right-handed Mike. Mike plays drums and occasionally guitar in the Bryan Bros Band, while Bob plays keyboards.
Woodforde and Woodbridge, known collectively as “the Woodies,” also won a men’s record 11 Grand Slam doubles titles. The Bryans said that mark is within their reach because doubles players tend to peak in their mid-30s.
“We always hope to win one or two a year,” said Mike. “We already got one this year, and we’re hoping we can win a couple more.”
Added Bob: “If it’s all said and done, and we play another five years, then who knows, we might pass the 11 mark. We’re hoping to go down as one of the greatest teams to ever play. We obviously shoot for the Slams, those are the ones we want to peak in. The clay court season will be a success if we win the French Open.”