Bjorkman/Mirnyi Win Roland Garros Final Over Bryans
Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Max Mirnyi of Belarus won their second straight title at Roland Garros in Paris over the American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 Saturday.
The victors were seeded second, while the Bryans, who also were runners-up in Paris last year, were seeded first. The match lasted two hours and 30 minutes.
Bjorkman, 34, and Mirnyi, 28, lifted their record for the year to 28-5, while the Bryans, 28, slipped to 34-8.
Bjorkman and Mirnyi are now 2-0 against the Bryans this year, beating them in April at the NASDAQ-100 Open final in Miami too. But the Bryans still have a 4-3 career edge over Bjorkman and Mirnyi (see chart below).
The winners have now captured four titles this year, previously taking Doha in January (d. C. Rochus-O. Rochus), Miami in April and Monte-Carlo in April (d. Santoro-Zimonjic). Coming into Roland Garros, Bjorkman and Mirnyi were third in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race.
The two Roland Garros trophies represent Bjorkman and Mirnyi's only Grand Slam titles together. They lost in the final of the 2005 US Open to the Bryans.
Bjorkman has won nine major crowns all together, with four different partners (Mirnyi, Woodbridge, Rafter, Eltingh). In addition to Roland Garros in 2005-06, Bjorkman won the Australian Open title in 1998-99, 2001; Wimbledon in 2002-04; and the US Open in 2003.
Mirnyi has won four major men's titles with three different partners. In addition to the two Roland Garros crowns, he won the US Open in 2000 (with Hewitt) and in 2002 (with Bhupathi).
With 611 career doubles wins, Bjorkman trails Cyrul Suk by only one victory for the most match wins by an active ATP doubles player.
The Bryans were seeking their third straight Grand Slam title (after the 2005 US Open and the 2006 Australian Open), which would have tied an Open Era record set by Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in 1996-97. This was the Bryan brothers' sixth consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam final, which broke Woodbridge and Woodforde's Open Era record, also set in 1996-97.
The Bryans are now 3-6 in Grand Slam finals. They won the Australian Open this year, the US Open last year (over Bjorkman-Mirnyi) and Roland Garros in 2003. In addition to their losses at Roland Garros in 2005-06, the Bryans fell in the finals of the Australian Open in 2004-5, the final of Wimbledon in 2005 and the final of the US Open in 2003.
The Bryan brothers have won two titles this year (the Australian Open and Las Vegas) and were runners-up five times, including Roland Garros. Coming into Paris, they were the No. 1 team in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race.
WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID
Bjorkman: "It's always nice with repeats. I think clay is the surface on which we really are doing well. We do well on all surfaces, but I think our strength on clay comes out even better."
On his play in the first set: "That was probably the worst I returned in one set for the last 15 years I played. For my standard, that was very, very poor. I couldn't really find the explanation. I was just so shocked that I didn't put any ball in the court. I mis-hit it and mis-timed it. They served well, but, still, with my standard, I should make a lot more returns."
"I was just trying to stay positive and hang in with it. I think that's a strength in our team. Max kept pushing me and kept me positive. And then after a while, I started to pick it up, and we managed to put sort of a good finish in the end when we both played well."
On their history playing the Bryans: "We played so often, even before me and Max teamed up. I played them a lot, and Max has been playing them a lot. Last year, record-wise, we were down. Now we've been coming back strongly. So obviously, anyone can win when we go out there."
"It's been great, good quality matches when we play, normally very good tennis, good doubles to watch. I think that's going to continue for the rest of the year. It's going to be probably more matches we have to play each other and more finals."
Mirnyi: "Ranking-wise, the Bryans are the best team. But on any given day, there are maybe five, seven teams that could be just as good. But it is special to beat them for the second time to win the title, sure."
Mike Bryan: "We almost won the French Open again. So we're pretty happy with the week"
On Bjorkman: "I think Jonas, he did step it up. I thought we served good all the way through, but he came up large on some returns, especially in the second and third. It's tough when he's seeing it that well. It actually doesn't really matter where you serve it, because he's good off both sides, and you just got to give him different looks. But too good by him."
Bob Bryan: "Three [Grand Slam titles in a row] would have been sweet. But we still had to win one more to break the record. So it's not like we blew it right here. They played too tough. We had chances. We put ourselves in position to win that thing in the third. Had those four breakpoints. But they came up with the goods. They just played better than us today. That's the bottom line."
On the break in the third set: "It was deja vu, basically the same thing as last year. We'd been holding pretty much the whole way through. Then one game, they lit it up. Mike might have missed a couple first serves, but Jonas hit that return winner at I think love-15 to put us in a hole, and Max got hot on the return."
"Jonas is solid. Max is sometimes the X factor. But he was putting a lot of returns in and not missing first serves. It made that team tough to beat today."
BRYANS v BJORKMAN/MIRNYI HEAD2HEAD
(Bryans lead 4-3)
2005 Australian Open Hard SF BRYAN / BRYAN 6-1 6-3
2005 Rome Clay SF BRYAN / BRYAN 6-3 4-6 6-2
2005 French Open Clay F BJORKMAN / MIRNYI 2-6 6-1 6-4
2005 Queen's Grass F BRYAN / BRYAN 7-6(9) 7-6(4)
2005 U.S. Open Hard F BRYAN / BRYAN 6-1 6-4
2006 Miami Hard (O) F BJORKMAN/MIRNYI 64 64
2006 French Open Clay F BJORKMAN / MIRNYI 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5