After nearly three months away with a hip injury, Bob Bryan tried to play a competitive match with the World Team Tennis Washington Kastles last week.
After two games, they substituted for him.
So it wasn’t a total shock that Bob, the lefty half of the Hall-of-Fame bound Bryan brothers, was headed for the operating table.
“He’s going to have surgery unfortunately. He’s having it this week up in New York [with a doctor] who’s one of the best in the world for the hip. It looks like it might be a six-month recovery. He’s hoping to come back a little after the Aussie Open next year,” Mike Bryan told Jane Voigt of Down the Tee. “It looks like it will get back to one-hundred percent; so that’s good news.”
A tennis.life source said the surgery was performed Thursday morning. (Indeed, the Washington Post confirms this).
The Bryans, who are now 40, retired in that final in Madrid, because of Bob’s hip. But the effort in that Masters 1000 tournament moved them up to a tie for No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings.
After losing the No. 1 ranking in Oct. 2017 – they had a stranglehold on the top spot for more than five years – the Bryans had dropped as low as No. 15 in February.
Their last major title was the 2014 US Open, and they had reached just two Grand Slam finals over the ensuing three years. In 2017, the brothers won just two relatively minor titles: Atlanta and Eastbourne.
You know, at their age and given what they’d accomplished, that thoughts began to creep in about whether it was the beginning of the end. But they rested and retooled and already in 2018, they had won Masters 1000 titles at Miami and Monte Carlo, and reached the final at two more, Indian Wells and Madrid.
The tennis was coming together, and there were goals to shoot for.
And then, the bad news.
Mike Bryan is hip, too
Mike Bryan knows all about this. It’s buried deep in their illustrious history now, but he had his own major hip issues all the way back in 2004.
After the Bryans lost in the quarterfinals at the Athens Olympics, he contemplated surgery himself, and according to this Forbes piece, was diagnosed with FAI and labral tears in both hips. He never missed any time, and had cortisone shots for three years and worked with a noted New York-based physiotherapist to manage it.
But Mike Bryan was just 26 then. Whole different ballgame.
The Bryans aren’t like the rest of the teams out there. Mike is playing with France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin this week, whose regular partner is injured. Jean-Julien Rojer, another top-10 player, is also going from week to week as his longtime partner, Horia Tecau, is also off the tour.
But the Bryans, twins, are like two halves of a whole.
So imagine the emotions when Mike, teamed up with Jack Sock, won Wimbledon this year and, at 40, returned to the No. 1 ranking.
That had been a “team” goal. And he did it without his other half.
“I would’ve loved for him to have hoisted the trophy with me. We were having a great year up to that point. I definitely thought we could’ve won a slam this year. [But], he was very supportive from home; and, I dedicated the victory to him. He was sharing in the whole process. I’m just looking forward to having him back,” Bryan told Down the Tee.
Sock time on the hard courts
Bryan played with Sam Querrey at the French Open, Jack Sock at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, Jamie Cerretani at Eastbourne, Frances Tiafoe in Atlanta and Roger-Vasselin this week in D.C.
But he’ll reunite with Sock for the rest of the hard-court season and though the fall.
There’s a new goal: making the ATP Tour Finals in November in London.
They are already 9th in the race (eighth, technically, since Bryan and Bryan stand at No. 2) after only two tournaments together
And given both their rankings are in the top 20, and they have a major title, they likely would earn the eighth spot automatically even if they do little else, per the rules.
The side bonus of this partnership is that it could prove to be a boost to Sock’s confidence during a season when his singles is a major struggle.
On his way to the top in singles last year, Sock didn’t play that much doubles.
But he won Wimbledon in 2014 with Canadian Vasek Pospisil. And recently, asked who the best doubles player in the world is, no less an authority than Daniel Nestor named Sock. Why? “Because he can win with anybody,” Nestor said.