After two decades of slam dunks, silverware and chest bumps, the Bryan brothers have said farewell to the Australian Open after a straight-sets defeat in the third round of the men’s doubles to fourth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek.
Monday’s loss isn’t quite the end. The twins intend to retire after a final US Open this autumn, but today was the last time that doubles’ most celebrated pairing graced the courts of Melbourne Park, their most successful Grand Slam where they won six of their remarkable 16 men’s doubles titles.
Seeded No.13, they gave it one last whirl, toughing out a three-set first round win over Rohan Bopanna and Yasutaka Uchiyama before defeating Juan Sebastian Cabal and Jaume Munar in straight sets. But Dodig and Polasek proved a step too far, sealing an ultimately comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory.
“It’s a really special place,” said Mike Bryan. “It’s got a special place in our heart, it’s got to be up there with our favourite slams. The fans have been fantastic, they really appreciate doubles. We played 10 finals over on Rod Laver Arena, the first in 2006 in a late night match against our buddy Leander (Paes). That’s a memory that’ll stand out for a long time. Everyone was chest bumping.”
The Bryans’ first Australian Open title in 2006 came as part of a run of four successive finals at Melbourne Park, cementing their legend with Australian tennis fans.
“We're gonna really miss coming down here,” said Mike Bryan. “Hopefully Craig (tournament director Craig Tiley) lets us in the Legends, come back with canes and put on a show. Try and get one inch off the ground on a few chest bumps."
The twins are now 41 and their record has slowly waned over the past couple of seasons. In 2019 they failed to make it past the third round at three of the four slams, which contributed to their decision to call it a day. While their great rival Daniel Nestor famously played on until his late 40s, the Bryans felt that they did not want to be simply making up the numbers on tour.
“Doubles you're only covering half the court,” said Bob Bryan in a pre-tournament press conference. “You can go pretty long. He (Nestor) was kind of pushing the bar way out there, which was scary. Ten, 15 years ago, 35 was ancient. With the training, everything, the ages are getting up there quick. (But) I don't think Mike or I want to play on fumes, just to be out there.
“It was a very tough decision. Tennis is our life. We both love traveling the world and doing this together. But we want to go out with a little kick, not be limping around.”
Source: AUS OPEN, AGENCIES