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Bryan brothers show no sign of ending doubles legacy

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan play against against

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan play against against Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez during the U.S. Open tennis tournament at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 6, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Bob and Mike Bryan took some time Thursday afternoon to reflect on their historic career, but make no mistake. The most successful doubles pairing of all-time has no intention of slowing down.

“We still feel like we can be up there and winning the big tournaments,” Bob said on the eve of the duo’s opening match at the New York Open. “That’s why we’re still doing it. We’ve done a lot so we don’t need to be out here as journeymen. We have goals we’re dedicated to. Every day we’re working hard and trying to get better, even at this ripe age.”

The 39-year-old twin brothers have won 114 doubles titles, including 16 Grand Slams, and reached 30 Grand Slam finals, all of which are records for a men’s doubles team. The Bryans, who are the fourth-ranked doubles team in the world, will face the French duo of Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin Thursday evening.

“We’re going to go all-in this year and see how it goes,” Mike said.

“I feel maybe the last couple of years, we’ve played a lighter schedule, but going into this year, we feel re-energized to go for that number one ranking,” Bob added.

The Bryans, who will be looking for their first Grand Slam win since the 2014 U.S. Open, made their Grand Slam debut in 1995 and credit much of their success and longevity to playing with each other.

Said Mike: “It never gets boring when you have your best friend on tour. I think that’s why we’ve been doing this so long.”

“The tour can be a lonely place if you’re just going at it by yourself, week in and week out, dealing with the highs and the lows,” Bob said. “It’s nice to have someone who can support you, someone that knows you better than anyone, and we have the same interests.”

Some of these interests include superhero movies — Bob said he would be Batman and Mike would be Robin, but Mike contends that his brother is the Joker — and music. They have written and recorded songs together and played gigs for fans, and both agree this time together has been beneficial to their performance.

“It’s the time on the court we’ve spent since (we were) three or four years old...and just the hours together (off of it), eating every meal together,” Mike said. “You think alike and that helps communication, which is huge on a doubles court. We have that big advantage over most teams.”

Added Bob: “We have thousands of matches under our belt, we’ve seen every scenario, and we trust each other so much. That’s something that works in our favor.”

In addition to the success they have had for themselves, the brothers say their role as standard bearers for doubles tennis is one they take seriously.

“We’ve loved that role, to carry the flag for doubles,” Mike said. “We’ve relished it, we love what we do and think it’s a great part of the sport. We’re always trying to promote it wherever we go.”

As for when they might stop carrying that flag, he did say that “we see this is as the last couple of chapters” of their career and that they would like to end on a high note, but added that “we’re not really talking about a finish line. I think we’re taking it year-by-year.”

Their more immediate focus is on playing good tennis and cherishing their time together.

Said Mike: “We’re a package deal. It’s a bond that has lasted this long and to be able to share this big part of our lives together is pretty special.”

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