As their doubles gen bows out, Bryans take Miami

MIAMI, Fla. – Mike and Bob Bryan, the No. 1 doubles team on the ATP Tour for 438 weeks, the year-end No. 1s for 10 consecutive years, have had a major dry spell by their standards.

But somehow, you knew they weren’t done yet.

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As the twins turn 40 at the end of this month, they captured their biggest title in nearly two years, winning the Miami Open for the fifth time.

And, combined with their run to the final at Indian Wells, they had their best “Sunshine Double” run since 2013 and 2014, when they won both, back-to-back.

Tied for 15th in the rankings when they hit the U.S. circuit, they will be tied for seventh in the rankings on Monday. And they will be a solid No. 2 in the race for the ATP Tour Finals.

“I’m really proud of the way we’re playing, how we’ve turned it around from a fairly rough last year. We’re building every week. I feel like we’re gaining momentum, and I’m very optimistic going into the clay-court season. And I think we’re playing with a lot of joy now, and it’s showing in our results,” Bob Bryan said after the 4-6, 7-6 (5), [10-4] win over young guns Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev of Russia.

Rublev and Khachanov are 41 – combined.

Comeback against the Russian kids

It wasn’t the brothers’ only comeback of the tournament.

They looked down and out against Daniell and Inglot in the first round. They looked done against Klaasen and Venus in the quarterfinals before winning the match 10-8 in the match tiebreak. 

The 2017 season was a tough one for the Bryans, who won the Masters 1000 in Rome in May of 2016, but managed just two small titles in the intervening two years, in Eastbourne on grass and in Atlanta last summer.

Mike Bryan’s marriage to Lucille Williams ended during that period, after less than five years. So there was a lot going on.

From 2013 through 2015, the brothers won 14 Masters 1000 titles, 

They were experimenting with various rackets after being with Prince forever, as Mike Bryan dealt with an ongoing arm issue. Last summer in Washington, D.C., Mike was playing with a Wilson, while Bob continued on with Prince.

Bryans

At the moment, they’re back on the same page, playing with Babolat.

“It’s a big honour and a pleasure to play with the best doubles players in history, and to have a great fight, and I think people enjoyed the match,” Rublev said during the trophy ceremony. “They are the best. That’s it.”

The last of a generation

Here’s a look at the doubles rankings, six years ago this week.

Longevity is a given in men’s doubles, as the top players in recent years have always skewed older than the top singles players even if the singles roster also has gotten more … seasoned.

But of the 10 players atop the rankings, three of the four youngest (Bhupathi, Llodra and Fyrstenberg) already have retired.

The rest play on. But all have seen their rankings tumble. Some are picking up partners week to week, looking to see where they can get into the bigger events.

That’s one huge advantage of playing with your twin. The chances that you’re going to break up are pretty slim.

Here’s an update on the rest – four of whom are also former No. 1s. And put into context, it tells you that even if the Bryans aren’t putting up the numbers they once were, their results are still impressive.

Max Mirnyi (BLR)

Age: 40
Career-high ranking: 1
Career titles: 51
Current ranking: 40
2018 won-loss record: 7-5
2018 partners: Philipp Oswald, Ryan Harrison
Best 2018 result: New York Open title
Miami result: 1st rd

Daniel Nestor (CAN)

Age: 45
Career-high ranking: 1
Career titles: 91
Current ranking: 74
2018 won-loss record: 3-9
2018 partners: Marcelo Demoliner, Steve Johnson, Denis Istomin, Florin Mergea, Neal Skupski, Robert Lindstedt, Jonathan Erlich, Donald Young, Philipp Oswald.
Best result: Auckland QF
Miami result: 1st rd

Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)

Age: 41
Career-high ranking: 1
Career titles: 54
Current ranking: 61
2018 won-loss record: 0-6
2018 partners: Kyle Edmund, Marcel Granollers, Andrey Rublev, Viktor Troicki, Florin Mergea, 
Best result: Seven first-round losses
Miami result: 1st rd

Leander Paes (IND)

Age: 44
Career-high ranking: 1
Career titles: 54
Current ranking: 45
2018 won-loss record: 5-6
2018 partners: Jamie Cerretani, Purav Raja, Joe Salisbury, 
Best result: Dubai final
Miami result: DNP

Rohan Bopanna (IND)

Age: 38
Career-high ranking: 3
Career titles: 17
Current ranking: 20
2018 won-loss record: 7-7
2018 partners: Édouard Roger-Vasselin
Best result: Sydney, Marseille SFs
Miami result: 2nd rd

Marcin Matkowski (POL)

Age: 37
Career-high ranking: 7
Career titles: 17
Current ranking:  47
2018 won-loss record: 5-6
2018 partners: Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 
Best result: Australian Open quarterfinal
Miami result: 1st rd

The Bryan brothers’ last major was the 2014 US Open.

Can they make a run at one this year?  Why not. The expanded Miami draw meant five match wins to take the title. A Grand Slam is just one more round.

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