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News, articles about the twins...

Twice as nice
Bryan twins offer opinions aplenty on state of tennis

Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 6:07PM;

Last summer, the head of ATP Europe made the stunningly distasteful analogy between men's doubles and cancer. A doubles player responded in kind, referring to the executive as "Hitler." Around the same time, the doubles specialists hired lawyers and announced they were suing the tour. It was shaping up to be a typical mindless, mutually destructive tennis turf war when, against all odds, reason and compromise prevailed.

Here we are six months later, and doubles is suddenly a hot property. The Australian Open doubles final may have been the match of the tournament, one that sent fans away happy after the ugliness of the preceding women's final. Men's doubles has its own blue-chip sponsor in Stanford Financial. John McEnroe's return last week in San Jose gave doubles an extra jolt of publicity. And the ATP has, well, partnered with the doubles players, naming a "doubles commissioner" and investing some promotional funds in a "Doubles Revolution" campaign.

During one of their rare breaks from the tennis caravan, Bob and Mike Bryan spent last Friday in New York as part of the doubles marketing drive. They closed the stock exchange and appeared at the ESPN Zone and sat for photo shoots. But their first priority was answering your Mailbag questions. From their beef with Leander Paes to their love of Martina Hingis, here are the twins:

What do you make of John McEnroe's comeback?
-- Todd, Sarasota, Fla.

Mike: My dad sent an e-mail to all the doubles players asking, "Do you think McEnroe and Bjorkman will beat Arthurs and Huss?" I'd say at least 80 percent said McEnroe and Bjorkman would win. John is so sharp, he's playing so well, and Bjorkman is Bjorkman. John played well in that exhibition and so I said it would be four and four. They won three and three, so I won the pool.

Bob: Arthurs and Huss are a new team. They haven't played that much. There's going to be psychological pressure on them. Really it was a lose, lose.

[Moderator: You're OK with McEnroe coming back? You don't think it undercuts the product when a fortysomething guy holds his own?]

Mike: I think it's always good when legends come back and play.

Bob: Good for tennis, good for doubles.

Mike: I think if he keeps doing well, he might come back to win a few more titles. Steal that Todd Woodbridge record back.

Bob: Picking his spots, he could definitely win a few.

Hi, Bob and Mike! It's awesome to see you guys finally winning lots of slams! You obviously know Andy Roddick well -- it seems like the past couple years he's lost a lot of confidence and isn't relaxed and having fun on court. How do you guys think he can get it back and go back to playing that great "Andy Roddick" power game that brought him so much success?
-- Deb, Peabody, Mass.

Mike: I think his confidence might be a little low right now, but his best tennis is still ahead of him.

Bob: There's no way he's dropping out of the top 10 with that serve and his tenacity, so if he just does a few things better -- such as attack a little more, stay closer to the baseline -- I think he has a lot more Grand Slam in him.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim covers tennis for the magazine and is a regular contributor to

Mike: He's working harder than he ever had. You should have seen him [during Davis Cup] doing sprints on the beach. Maybe right now it's not paying off as much, but it will.

How long until Victoria Azarenka breaks into the top 20/top 10?
-- L.N., Salt Lake City

Mike: We saw Azarenka for the first time in Boise at an exhibition last December, and she was pretty impressive. She can play.

Bob: I think she'll be top 20 within the next 18 months.

With regard to Davis Cup, it is one of the rare occasions when we get to see top singles players playing doubles. I was surprised to see how well Nalbandian did on Saturday. My question: How do you think the Bryans would fare against Roddick teamed up with either Agassi or Blake?
-- R.S., Zurich, Switzerland

Mike: These are great tennis players, and they'll adapt and play good doubles. I mean, Federer would be No. 1 in both singles and doubles if he wanted to try it.

Bob: His skills translate. I think Andy and his huge serve would be good. Clay-court players like Coria I don't think would fare as well.

Mike: But it depends on how much they'd want to put into the skills of doubles. If they jumped right in, we'd take 'em. But if Agassi and Roddick practiced doubles for a few months and were really sharp, our hands would be full.

Bob: Come on, we've been playing for 25 years. I'm going to say we're still gonna win.

Mike: I'm going to say we'll win eight of 10. I mean, we played Agassi and Blake in an exhibition, and Agassi was playing great, and we hadn't hit a ball in a while. He clipped us. He comes in hot. Afterwards, he gives us crap: "It's great beating the Number 2 team in the world." Next time we play Agassi we're getting ready.

Props for Estonia's Smigun, who's already won two gold medals in cross-country skiing. A country with a rough history and barely one million people! Speaking of Estonians ... any Estonian tennis players you see with potential, Jon?
-- Mark Randmaa, Toronto

Mike: Um, not on the men's tour.

Bob: Is that a country or an area?

Mike: Isn't that next to Latvia?

What the heck was it like for you guys to do an exo vs. the Macs (Enroes)??!!
-- Maria, New York

Mike: What happened was that Hanescu pulled out at Davis Cup last weekend, so for the fans to get their money's worth they had us play John and Pat. It was great. I mean, there were 5,400 people. John was up to his old antics, throwing his racket, getting pissed over line calls.

Bob: The pressure of Davis Cup was over and we had only played for like 26 minutes, so we were thrilled.

Do you think there's a chance that the two Martinas (Navratilova and Hingis) would team up to play doubles this year? Do you think they could bag a Slam? You have to admit that this would be must-see tennis.
-- B. Rogers, Buffalo

Bob and Mike: They could easily win a Slam.

Mike: Hingis is one of the best players in doubles. Bob actually tried to get her to play mixed at the Australian Open, and Mahesh got her five hours before.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim covers tennis for the magazine and is a regular contributor to

Bob: That would have been a free 60 grand.

Mike: We were both in Sydney with her and Mahesh was in India, but he fired her an e-mail. Bob called like five hours later and she was like, "Nope. Sorry. I just got an e-mail from Mahesh."

Bob: Martina Navratilova is still playing great tennis. They should play together at Wimbledon. That would be their best chance.

Mike: He was grinding on her to play at the French Open.

Bob: I think I broke her down to play with me. We'll see.

Another Hall of Fame question, sorry, but where does Natasha (Natalia) Zvereva rate in the Hall of Fame induction? Shriver got in (Pam had a more successful singles career), but Natalia is No. 5 in all-time doubles titles with 80. And dang, wasn't she fun to watch. You never knew what she could/would/might/felt like doing on any day. And the whole prize money revolt (you are welcome, Sharapova) thing -- call her Zheng. Hall of Fame for sure, right?? Or not?
-- Michael Clarno, Grand Rapids

Bob: She deserves it for the doubles. All those Grand Slams.

Mike: Plus wasn't she the first player to lose oh-and-oh in the final of a Grand Slam? That has to count for something.

Questions for Bob and Mike: I noticed during Davis Cup coverage this weekend (congrats on the win) that Bob's beads are back. Bob, is this because you were so used to wearing them, or were you sick and tired of people asking if you were Bob or Mike? And Mike, have you ever considered growing a mustache or mullet for use as an identifying feature?
-- Suzanne, Arlington, Va.

Bob: I gave it a run without the beads -- we're going to shake this superstitious thing -- but after losing five Grand Slam finals in a row I thought we needed the beads back.

Mike: No mullet. No, no. Our dad is always saying that if we did an earring or a tattoo or long hair he would kill us. He gets mad when we wear a hat backwards. We're more clean-cut.

Hi, Bob and Mike! Who do you think is the best doubles player in the singles top 10 of the WTA?
-- Gracie, Manila, Philippines

Mike: I might say Hingis first. Great hands.

Mike: For the men, Federer and Henman, just because they both volley so well. Federer, man, that guy just has every shot.

A limerick to welcome you:

Two siblings named Bob and Mike Bryan

Do mid-air chest bumps while they're flyin'

A Grand Slam in doubles

Should come without troubles

And leave unrelated teams cryin!
-- Doyle Srader, Nacogdoches, Texas

Bob: Thanks, Doyle.

Mike: That guy and Spadea should hook up!

Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim covers tennis for the magazine and is a regular contributor to

Bob, how often do you get the singles bug?
-- Mark, Washington, D.C.

Not so much anymore. It used to bug me that I wasn't playing a lot because I was playing well. But I had three match points on Baghdatis in November in the qualifying of Basel. Him beating me kind of got me fired up again.

Mike: Get this. He qualified and got to the finals. He beat Nalbandian and Haas. That's when he started his run.

Bob: I guarantee that if he had lost to Bob Bryan it would have taken him a couple of years to recover from that.

Here are some Mailbag standbys:

What's your take on the Australian Open women's final?

Bob: It was great for us, because since Justine defaulted we got a ton of ESPN time and everyone [in the stands] loved it.

Mike: I sure hope it was a legitimate injury.

Bob: I think it was. It's just that you can play three more games and give the crowd their money's worth.

Mike: She's a fighter and she's proven it. But if she does it again it's really going to be bad. Everyone is talking about it. She was getting killed, so why not just finish it up and give Mauresmo a match point?

Who's your favorite WTA player to watch?

Mike: I like watching Henin.

Bob: Yeah, if I had her backhand I'd be top 10. If she were a little bigger she could go on the men's tour and crush guys with that thing.

Another bus tour lined up?

Bob: We'd like to.

Mike: But it's up to the big man, Andy.

Biggest advantage of a righty-lefty team?

Mike: I think it's that with a righty serve and then a lefty serve, you don't give the other team a rhythm.

Bob: It's good for the wind.

Mike: Plus with the forehands in the middle we have more reach at the net. When we poach, we both hit forehand volleys.

Favorite Tour stop?

Mike: Used to be Acapulco.

Bob: Might be Vegas this year.

Best rivalry in doubles right now?

Bob: Mike and Leander Paes.

Mike: Us versus Bjorkman and Mirnyi.

Bob: But Leander took some shots at Mike in the press. "He's an insecure little fella."

Mike: I'm insecure. Bob is the better player. He originated the chest bump and we took it from him. I had a long history of trying to hit opponents. Basically he cut me low.

Bob: But he also takes shots at Mahesh. He once said it would take Mahesh two or three lifetimes to have the career he had. Mahesh sent me that e-mail.

[Ed: As Pete Bodo notes, the Australian Open site no longer contains the transcript from Paes and Damm after the final. Weird, no?]

Pete or Andre?

Both: Andre.

Mike: I've always been an Andre person.

Bob: Always, from Day One.

Mike: We went to Vegas in December and Andre showed us his school and hooked us up at his nightclub, Pure.

Bob: It's in Caesar's. It's unbelievable. They say on a good night it makes like 500 grand.

Mike: There's a line outside that wraps around the place.

Bob: He hooked us up with a sweet table in the middle and he got bodyguards for us.

Mike: Not that we needed it.

Bob: He's the man there. James went to Vegas for a bachelor party and Andre hooked him up with rooms at Hard Rock.

Didn't you find it strange that Mario Ancic didn't acknowledge the passing of Pat Morita after his Davis Cup win, considering his sensei Miyagi was instrumental in getting him to this point? I mean, Ancic was waxing on like nobody's business, and he didn't care to mention the man who taught him the crane kick! Just curious what your thoughts are.

[Ed: This letter is premised on the eerie similarity between Ancic and Daniel LaRussa, Ralph Macchio's character in Karate Kid.]

Mike: Nice. Daniel-san.

Bob: That's a good one. Ancic does look like him!


Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim covers tennis for the magazine and is a regular contributor to


Bryans || Djokovic || Paire || Rojer || Tecau || Pospisil || Chiudinelli || Verdasco || Simon || Seppi || Leo Mayer

Björkman || Arthurs || Edberg || Nalbandian || Hanley || Rafter
T.Johansson || M.Norman || Aspelin || O. Rochus || Söderling

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