Bryan brothers enjoy their doubles life
By Darren Sabedra
San Jose Mercury News
Article Launched:02/17/2008 01:44:51 AM PST
They're as anonymous in the sports world as middle relievers and third-string quarterbacks, but twin doubles aces Bob and Mike Bryan wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think we've got the perfect deal," Mike said.
The Bryans, who will come to San Jose this week for the SAP Open, have each topped $4 million in prize money. They're widely popular in tennis circles - so much so that they command appearance fees to play - but neither has to worry about being noticed at the grocery store.
"Mike and I have a great niche in the sport," Bob said. "(Andy) Roddick has to deal with a lot of pressure and media commitments. I'm sure he would like to go through an airport one time and not sign an autograph.
"Mike and I are famous in the tennis world, and that's great. It's great to go to a tennis tournament and have fans root for you and take pictures. But when we go home and want some privacy, we have it."
The Bryans, 29, are identical twins with far from identical personalities. "Bob is more of the leader of the team," Patrick McEnroe said. "Mike's a little more of a worrier. He's always worried about something."
McEnroe knows the Bryans as well as anyone in tennis. As captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team, he was on the sideline two months ago in Portland, Ore., when the brothers clinched America's first Davis Cup title in 12 years.
The Bryans are a machine on the court. They have finished No. 1 in the year-end world rankings four times and have won five Grand Slam titles, most recently at the 2007 Australian Open.
Off the court, the twins have never spent more than a week apart in their entire lives. They share homes in Tampa, Fla., and Camarillo, where they mostly resemble the odd couple. As Mike put it, "I'm doing the laundry, the dishes and packing the bags usually, and he's just watching TV on the couch."
Mike, who is two minutes older, is the one with the longtime girlfriend, and both joke that it will be a little weird when one or both of them marry. "I think we're going to eventually live on the same street or something," Mike said. "Twins got to stick together."
Despite the differences, the former Stanford stars co-exist with only occasional spats.
"I'm more left brain; he's more right brain," Mike said. "I think more (about the) future. I'm more of a planner. He's more creative. He's never on time. He's messy. I'm the one who has to keep the ship sailing smoothly."
Bob doesn't disagree. But, he adds, "He knows nothing about computers. I'm kind of the technology guy. We're a good match."
They've been a good tennis pairing since they were 6. The sons of former players - Wayne Bryan played in college; Kathy (Blake) Bryan played professionally - the chest-bumping twins were raised with rackets in hand. And doubles was always their forte, largely because Wayne Bryan, who managed his own tennis club for 25 years, wanted his sons to play together in college.
In many ways, playing doubles was the best of two worlds for the brothers. If one or both lost in singles, they'd always have a doubles trophy to bring home.
Bob would go on to win college tennis' triple crown for Stanford in 1998 - singles, doubles and team titles - and was on the cusp of a singles breakthrough as pro when he turned his focus strictly to doubles.
"He kind of made the sacrifice for me," said Mike, who also played singles but was slowed by injuries.
Bob isn't complaining. After all, he and Mike set an Open era record by reaching seven consecutive Grand Slam finals in 2005-06 and have won every major at least once.
"To be No. 1 in the world and to win Grand Slams and to win Davis Cup, it's a dream come true," Bob said. "I wouldn't change a thing. Every day I wake up, and I can't believe the way it has gone."
The Bryans' dominance is a welcome sight for teammates on the U.S. Davis Cup team.
"We wouldn't want another doubles team, that's for sure," Roddick said. "The amount that they do for tennis as far as kids clinics, they're always involved in that sort of stuff with their dad, really promoting the game of doubles. Their passion for tennis is up their with anybody."
Dick Gould, the twins' coach at Stanford, isn't surprised by their success. If they stay healthy, he believes they can flourish into their mid-30s.
"You learn you never underestimate what someone can do," said Gould, who will be at HP Pavilion on Tuesday to watch the Bryans play. "Being on the Davis Cup team has been a big boost for them. They love the team concept."
The twins enjoyed the ultimate team experience - and fulfilled a major goal - when the United States defeated Russia in the Davis Cup final two months ago.
"We never dreamed that this career would be as sweet as it has been," Mike said. "We always had dreams of maybe being No. 1, but never dreamed that we'd be No. 1 four times and dominate like we have the last few years."