Down Under, the Bryan brothers won their 6th Aussie doubles crown, with a straight sets win, 6-3, 6-4 over Robin Haase and Igor Sjisling. On their illustrious careers, they now have 13 major titles, 4 more than the magical American team of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who had 9 major titles with one another. While we don’t always have the same respect for the Aussie titlist in singles, because of the surface usually, and because we are old school, and we just don’t weight as heavily the Australian Open as we do the majors, as far as the ranks within the majors go. But doubles is different entirely. In team tennis, what doubles is, you are not going to have a great chance if you are not synched up and in tune with your partner, and even then, there are no guarantees. What makes doubles so interesting, among other things, is that it is still very much bang bang tennis–short rallies, true attack tennis, net play–and as synched as you are, the opponents may just be better that day, you lose, even if your name is Serena and that’s it.
Or, you might throw 2 guys together and they might even be baseliners or less bold players, like Bellucci/Paire and they me playing Rojer/Qureshi, 6th seeds who are heavily favored, and for most of the match you are shaking your head at how Bellucci is killing his team, like at the AO 3rd round men’s, and then Bellucci pulls it together for a few games late, and Quereshi and Rojer, a major calibre team, is going home. Doubles is interesting for so many reasons, and therefore, we must cherish how much doubles we get on those mix channels at major time. When else is it even televised? All these tour stops now between the AO and RG, we will be lucky to catch a handful of doubles finals on TTC in all those months, and yet I have just seen TTC air 6 Destination Tennis episodes since last night, all previously aired heavily. You’d think The Tennis Channel could throw a doubles match in once in a while, but since they aren’t even willing to send a broadcast team to road Davis Cup ties, these reasons come up when one inevitably call TTC a second rate network.
The Bryans have always been good players. They were both top 100 singles players, if not actually then certainly potentially, but they choose doubles and focused on it, and obviously America is lucky they did. I thought both played singles very offensively, and with improved conditioning, could have played that way well enough to see some singles success. For the Bryans to be this good, this in step, well, obviously it has been a labor of love, but yes, a labor. Nothing gets this good without planning and coordination, and work. Winning 6 AO’s, more or less the first real high stakes tennis of the year, when it might be even harder to be at your best because of a lot of poor conditions, from heat to surface/injury problems, and because most teams have yet to get in step, and find that groove ultimately necessary for big things to happen. Even the Williams sisters slipped up Down Under, giving the very good team of Errani/Vinci (one handers holla) life, enough for them to get in step and hand the Williams’ a very rare defeat. Rarers so is the Bryans losing in doubles in DC, where they are 20-2 in their careers, essentially losing twice now over 2 decades, and providing the true linch pin that America owes at least a healthy amount of whatever success they have in Davis Cup to.
Both the Bryans play one handed tennis, they are expert at net, and really, magicians. They are the most unheralded athletes perhaps anywhere. And today they play a very good team of Melo/Soares for Brazil, on a fast American court, in a Davis Cup tie, which is really the truest form of doubles left today, where you must win 3 sets. Only the French Open and US Open are left as majors where teams need to even win 2 sets out of 3, as now we are seeing, even at majors, these 10 point mini deciding sets. Puke. At least Wimbledon is still pure, best of 5 set tennis.
Do yourself a favor and tivo the Bryans today at 2 PM. There’s no excuse for not doing so if you really love tennis.