Team GOAT? Bryans Set Doubles Record With 62nd Career Title
by Sean Randall | August 2nd, 2010, 2:04 pm
  • 16 Comments

A big congrats to Bob and Mike Bryan – better known as the Bryan Twins – for setting the record for most doubles team titles yesterday. The California kids won their 62nd career doubles crown Sunday after they beat Butorac and Rojer 6-7(6), 6-2, 10-7.

“Sixty two brings a smile to our face,” Bob said. “It’s been an emotional ride, talking about it every day for the past couple of months. To finally do it is incredible.

“It was a flood of emotion. I never thought we’d be this consistent, this healthy our whole career. Sixty one looked like it was on the other side of the moon. If you stay consistent, and never give up on each other – even in dry spells – anything can happen. We’ve never given up on each other.”

Their sixth LA crown moved the Bryans, who grew up in Camarillo, Cali., one past Aussie greats “the Woodies”, Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge.

We often discuss who the men’s GOAT is – Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or someone else – but in doubles team play you could make the case that the Bryans are in the GOAT.

Since turning pro in the late 90s the brothers have accumulated eight career Grand Slam titles and finished as the No. 1 team on the ATP tennis circuit five times not to mention their unrivaled excellence in Davis Cup.

That’s better then American greats John McEnroe and Peter Fleming who won seven Slams in 57 titles.

The Woodies, however, still edge the Bryans with an Open Era record 11 majors plus the Golden Slam in 1996.

But at just 32, the Bryans have more than enough time to build on their numbers and if they can stay healthy they should clear the Woodies and then Newcombe/Roche (12) for most career Slam doubles titles all-time.

So consider just how lucky we are to be tennis fans in this generation. Not only do we get to watch the singles GOAT but also the doubles team GOAT.


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16 Comments for Team GOAT? Bryans Set Doubles Record With 62nd Career Title

SG Says:

Sorry…Mac and Fleming…going away. Great singles players make even better doubles players. Somehow, I don’t think the Bryans could match up well with the fierce McEnroe doubles game. Mac was an even better doubles player than singles player if that’s even possible.


grendel Says:

SG – you know, when Peter Fleming was asked who were the best doubles team ever, he replied:”McEnroe and anyone”. When McEnroe heard this, he naturally demurred and said Fleming wasn’t doing himself justice. But he looked kind of pleased, and as if he wasn’t about to disagree too strongly.

Of course, McEnroe genuinely loved doubles. He used to dislike normal practice so much, and would use doubles as a substitute.

In Steffi Graf’s last year at Wimbledon, McEnroe paired up with her in the mixed, and he was clearly very excited about it. Then, when it looked like Steffi had a chance of winning the singles- she’d beaten Venus Williams in a rain affected match, after Williams had dismissed Steffi as having had her day; to do Williams justice, she refused to blame the rain for her defeat, whereas in fact it probably did save Steffi, and Davenport went on to beat her convincingly in the final – phew, right, to return: yes, Graf withdrew from the mixed.

I suppose she was probably eyeing Navratilova’s 9 Wimbledons – she’d have had 8 if she’d beaten Davenport, and I suspect she might not have retired. Anyway, McEnroe wasn’t too impressed, you can be sure of that, and perhaps Steffi made a misjudgement – she would surely have won the mixed with McEnroe.


SG Says:

Grendel,

Agreed. Mac was a force of nature in doubles. Only having to cover half the court and with time to fully exppress the sheer brilliance of his shotmaking capabilities, Mac was the true maestro in this very underappreciated aspect of the game.

The Aussies loved to play doubles. Even the great Aussies loved it. As tennis dominance shifted to the rest of the world, this passion for doubles no longer seemed to be in fashion.

Such is the nature of agents and money. Sometimes, as a famous lyric states, the world changes “….forever, not for better….”.


grendel Says:

The question of why doubles has fallen out of fashion seems to me to be quite a deep one, and I think agents have exploited the situation but not created it. Money falls in the wake, and can be pretty pernicious – look at our spoilt, pampered, football stars, the more stupid of whom essentially think they are above the law – but the lavish life styles which the piling up of money encourages seems to me to reflect our society, even to a degree our nature, rather than being causal of behaviour. In other words, it’s no good blaming a few extravagant individuals. But that’s just a personal opinion which many will reject, I know.

As I see it, people want heroes, and this is increasingly the case as more and more of us become sedentary, desk bound, house bound, with little to look forward to but more goodies, more luxury, more rapid and easily accessed stimulation. Nothing wrong with any of this in moderation, but it is hard to be moderate when stuff is continually flashed under your nose and you are urged from all sides, including government, that indulgence is the reward of virtue (virtue being the creation of wealth – a curious notion which I have never understood).

But people in their hearts are not satisfied with this. They might or might not know it consciously, but there is a vacuum in their lives, and it is natural that they reach out to fill the empty spaces. And my guess is – shoot me down if this sounds silly – that the “remedy” comes in two basic forms, namely “individual” and “collective” or “communal”. The “individual” aspect is satisfied by the attachment to heroes, especially in sport and the entertainment business. So in tennis, (or boxing – a comparable sport in some ways) people get hooked onto heroes in ways varying from mild to fanatical. Of course you can like a particular tennis player for all sorts of reasons, including the sheer excellence of his/her game, but inevitably quite strong emotions tend to accompany your attachment – and that’s an important part of the buzz. And it is much, much easier to focus this attachment onto one individual, or even a series of individuals, than onto a pair of individuals as in doubles tennis. The “collective” urge, so far as sport is concerned (for obviously there are other arenas), is satisfied by loyalties to teams, as in football etc. This fits in well with our tribal origins.

“Doubles” on the other hand, are neither individual nor collective or communal – they fall between two stools. So it’s difficult to get an audience terribly interested. It’s often been said that doubles can actually, strictly speaking, be more entertaining and even breathtaking than singles. But the trouble is, it’s all a bit academic – like watching acrobats doing their amazing stunts. Yes, it can be fascinating in small doses, but it lacks the emotional punch which people are desperately looking for.

Of course, little of this applies to the genuine tennis connoisseur. But most of us who follow tennis are far from being that.


skeezerweezer Says:

First of all Congrats to the BB, Awesome feat! You go guys! Keep the records comin!

@SG

Mac was a freak. One of the last great serve and volley guys in singles. ANYONE who could play that style of game was gonna do some damage in doubs……and he did. I saw Mac play when he was close to 50 and won a ATP doubs tourney in SJ. ca. A young gun Murray won the singles. Mac was awesome, they drilled him from the baseline with shots and Mac calmly took care of em.

Now you got both players staying at the baseline at times serving and returning, WTF?

Not the BB’s. Kudos to them, real doubs still works!

@Grendal

Agreed. In Singles, there is a building of a strategy and “a point” that a fan observer can see and understand in single “point” played out in singles. Doubles IMO goes too fast for the average fan on TV. ummm I guess.

Singles is a broad layout and map that everyone can see whereas doubles is requires quicker reflexes, more variety of shotmaking and basically what I call “shooting darts”. Both require different though IMO equal skills but, come from different layouts or “maps” to play in.

Singles is all about getting your opponent out of position where doubles is containing your opponents into a position where you want them to be. Once there, you play the odds and place or put away a ball( eg; down the middle between the two ) to gain the advantage and the odds to win the point.


grendel Says:

That’s a really interesting and useful distinction between singles and doubles, Skeezerweezer – cheers, it’s good to learn!


jane Says:

Just wanted to give a shout out to Daniel Nestor as one of the all time great doubles players – he has 69 titles. According to Wiki, he is the “ONLY player in TENNIS HISTORY to have won all the Grand Slams and Masters Series events at least once”. He also has the golden slam.

As far as doubles popularity, or lack thereof, I was amazed at how empty the stands were for the FO men’s doubles finals, which I think I had to find on streaming since it was not televised – or maybe it was. But anyhow, it does seem that what little doubles matches I do get to see in T.V. involve either the Williams sisters or the Bryans brothers since TSN is a subsidiary of ESPN, an American channel.


jane Says:

Grendal, enjoyed your take on things at 7:30 post re: hero cravings to fill the void for weird money/virtue cycle. Heard an interesting discussion on BBC radio just the other day about boom and bust, and emptiness.


jane Says:

sorry, should be grendel, not grendal.


margot Says:

grendel: capitalism only works if we all accumulate “stuff” like crazy. As world has finite resources, never understood it myself.
re your comment about Andy needing to unravel his game, it’s Andy himself who is unravelling, IMnot soHO.


grendel Says:

margot – this is quite a thoughtful article on Murray by Reed, although he’s better at spotting the problems than suggesting the solutions, but perhaps that’s only natural.
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/simon-reed/article/4583/


Dan Martin Says:

The Bryans can’t be GOATs in my opinion (considered authoritative in 16 states and Puerto Rico) because the level of players actually playing doubles has dropped off considerably. Connors used to play a bit of doubles, but Borg did not. When Bjorn and Jimmy were in the top tier without playing doubles the level steadily declined. Mac being an exception. Edberg played doubles for Sweden in the 1990′s and made Flach and made a top flight doubles team look like kids taking a lesson. Becker and Stich hated each other when active on tour and the two combined to win the 1992 Olympic Gold after Stich won the Wimbledon doubles title with McEnroe. (trend of singles talent trumping doubles players …) Fed Wawrinka in 2008…

Take John Newcombe and Roy Emerson. Newcombe won 17 slams in men’s doubles to go with 7 singles slams. Emerson won 16 men’s doubles slams to go with 12 singles slams. I’d say Mac and Flemming would be the GOATs, but any combo of the various Aussies including the Woodies would have been favored vs. the Bryan twins.

Newcombe winning 17 doubles slams against other top Aussies is more impressive to me than the Bryan twins beating Moodie and Huss oh wait they lost to GOAT-slayers Moodie and Huss.


jane Says:

margot not sure if you’ve seen the article grendel posted on Murray; interesting how strongly Reed touts Cahill as the man to fill the job vacancy, and also how ambivalent he is about the passive versus aggressive nature of Murray’s play. He’s beginning to think all-out aggression may not be the answer for Andy. Anyhow, worth a read (no pun intended) and thanks to grendel for posting it.


jane Says:

Dan, thanks for clarifying the GOAT requirements for us. ; )


grendel Says:

“Connors used to play a bit of doubles, but Borg did not.” I distinctly remember, beardless youth though I was, Borg being the first top player to eschew the doubles. It felt very strange at the time, and it seemed to be evidence of Borg’s awsome single-mindedness. He was going to win Wimbledon and nothing was going to distract him. I wonder whether the decision was his or that of his coach, Lennart Bergelin. Also, did he set a trend, did other top players follow his lead,or did he simply anticipate what was coming anyway?


Dan Martin Says:

Also, the doubles tour jettisoning the 3rd set and cutting back from 3 of 5 sets in at least a few of the slams helps longevity of older players. Weaker fields and a less taxing game – Bryan’s are the GOAT of that. Give me Newcombe and Roche …

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