Bryan Brothers InterviewWritten by Scott Minor
After their first loss of the 2009 season, to Rohan Bopanna and Jarkko Nieminen in the quarterfinals of the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., the top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan sat down with TalkAboutTennis.com to share their thoughts on their past and their future—both on and off the court.
TAT: So, that was your first loss of the year?
Mike Bryan (MB): Yeah, it kind of reduces a little bit of the pressure. You can’t ever be perfect. We’re looking forward to having next week off. We can go home and then obviously on the horizon is a big match against Switzerland. Trying to get up to play, and we’ve got Delray [Beach] right in front of there. So we’re going to go home and train, try to think about that, what we have to do to slay Roger Federer and Wawrinka, the gold medalists.
TAT: You’re pretty sure that’s who you’ll play?
MB: I think 100 percent they’ll put the gold medal team in there against us. It’s going to be a pivotal match, considering it’s going to be really hard to beat Roger Federer in singles, and I think I like our chances of the other guys beating Wawrinka. Potentially it could be 2-all, and that’s the swing match. We’re looking forward to that. We’re just going to go home and rest. Florida has been home for us for a few years now. We’re just a mile away from the Saddlebrook Academy, and close to James [Blake], Mardy [Fish], and a lot of good guys.
TAT: How do you handle facing someone like Roger, who’s a singles star adapting to doubles, whereas you guys know doubles inside and out?
MB: Hopefully, they’re a little bit rusty. And we’re practicing doubles every day, so we’re sharp. We just hope that they’re not as quick at the net as usual. Sometimes they’re a little flat-footed after playing singles; the ball comes at them quick. That’s the thing we see with singles guys when they jump on the doubles court. But he’s going to be geared up. We can expect that [from] one of the greatest players ever to play the game. It’s going to be on a quick court, like today. So it’s probably going to be a lot of quick points, big serving doubles.
TAT: You’ve won each of the Slams. You’ve won the Davis Cup. And yet you obviously don’t lack for energy. What are your other goals for your career? What keeps you going each day?
MB: Just doing more of it. We love that winning feeling, and we’re working hard to achieve that goal. Celebrating after the tournament makes it all worthwhile. We’ve very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and it’s just filling up the trophy case—making it a little more beefy, doing this as long as we can. I think we’ve put ourselves in position to be one of the great teams to ever play, and I guess we want to just play as long and as hard as we can, and hopefully be looked back on as one of the greater teams.
TAT: Do you keep track of how many titles you’ve racked up, and how many it will take to pass the next team above you?
Bob Byran (BB): Everyone knows how many titles they have. So, as we get closer to 61, you know, I think we’re 10 away. We’re not going to talk about it too much, because if you start talking about it, it gets harder to win one title.
TAT: You’ve had the bad luck to run into a hot team each year in San Jose.
MB: It’s a quick court, and the shortened format doubles match is a very equalizing environment. You know, [when] a team gets hot and serves like that, it doesn’t matter who you are. You’re going to have trouble—when Bopanna is serving in the 140s, and Jarkko is making a lot of first serves on big points. I think we lost our first 11 break points. I mean, give us a couple of those.
TAT: That doesn’t happen often, with Mike getting to return twice in a row.
MB: On those breaks, we had only one or two looks, where maybe they missed a first serve. So, very rarely do we have that low a percentage, like 1 of 15. And maybe they were 1-for-1 or 1-for-2. They took their chances, and we didn’t. That’s the way it goes.
[Editor’s Note: Their memory was very close. The Bryans were 1 of 13 on break points, while Bopanna and Nieminen were 1 of 3.]
TAT: Is there one career match that stands out for you when you look back?
MB: Yeah, when we look back, winning Wimbledon—winning the career slam there.
BB: Winning the first grand slam [Roland Garros, 2003].
MB: Clinching the Davis Cup in Portland . Right now, it’s tough to say. Winning the Aussie Open a few weeks ago was pretty sweet. But, if we had to pick one, it’d be winning Davis Cup.
TAT: Is there a consistent leader between you two in each match, or does it change match-to-match?
MB: It’s better for us if we’re staying quiet, letting the other guy do his thing. We’ve played together so much. No one wants to have a coach out there with him. You know, he knows my game. I know his game. I’m not going to coach him and tell him what to do. As twins and as brothers, that’s not the way to go. You just try to stay positive and encourage your brother.
BB: I don’t think anyone’s leading.
TAT: How’s the band doing?
MB: Actually, we’re pretty excited. We’ve cut three songs.
BB: We’re trying to get a real album out. We don’t sing, so we have guest singers. Bob is the engineer, the producer. And we’ve come up with… we don’t have the song on us. We just wrote a tennis song that we’re probably going to give to Tennis Channel. Maybe you’ll hear it soon. We’re looking to cut [an album] by Wimbledon, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe you’ll hear it on the ATP site.