Back in the day, the Bryan brothers had the exuberance of youth and a misguided notion that they would always play together and live together. Seriously. They would talk about sharing a big home when they marry and raising their families together.
Fate, not surprisingly, put forth a different path for the American twins in terms of their personal lives.
Bob married Michelle from Miami and they live there, near her family, with their soon-to-be one-year-old daughter, Micaela. Those with good memories might remember that last year here everyone was keeping their fingers crossed that Micaela would wait out the Australian Open before arriving – Bob did make it back to Florida for her birth on January 31.
Mike just married Lucille from England in November – his wedding band still shiny new on his finger – and they divide their time between Tampa, Florida, on the other coast of the state from Bob, and the brothers’ hometown of Camarillo, California. They also plan on purchasing some property in Wales, where Lucille is from so they’ll have time with her family, too.
It’s hardly a little known secret that if Bob has his way, Mike will be working on a first cousin for Micaela very soon. Bob even let it be known the other day that many players looking to start a family try to time the conception at the upcoming Indian Wells tournament so the baby can come in the December offseason.
As for Mike, he laughed and said he’d heard Bob’s theory, but indicated Bob won’t be rushing Lucille and him into parenthood.
“I think we’re going to see how it plays out,” Mike said. “You know, Bob’s timing wasn’t so good. We’re still talking about it. We’ve got to enjoy marriage first.” To that last comment, Bob just shook his head and said, “C’mon man, bust it out. You’re not getting any younger.”
Family matters aside, when it’s come to tennis the 34-year-old twins are still very cemented together as the force to be reckoned with in the doubles arena. The Bryans, the top seeds here, are into the semifinals following their 6-3 7-5 quarterfinal win over Daniele Bracciali of Italy and Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic. In Thursday’s semifinals, the Bryans will play the unseeded Italian duo of Simone Bolelli and Fabrio Fognini.
“It’s a good start to the year for us, we’re feeling pretty good and hanging in there,” Mike said. “Our intensity probably goes up a little bit now, but every match at a Slam is important. We can sort of see the finish line because all we have to do is win two more matches. Luckily, we’ve been in this position many times before so it’s not like our anxiety level goes up.”
The Bryans’ career achievements have been remarkable and they’ve rewritten the record books on many occasions.
They’ve ended eight of the past 10 years as the No.1 doubles team in the business. Their 82 career titles together make them the winningest team in the history of men’s tennis.
Last year, with their US Open victory, they tied the record of Australians John Newcombe and Tony Roche for winning 12 Grand Slam titles. The US Open victory also kept their impressive streak of winning at least one Grand Slam title every year going for the past eight seasons. It’s also worth noting that the Bryans’ 12 victories at the majors might not be the overall record in the sport, but it is a record in the Open Era of tennis.
Finalists at the 2012 Australian Open, the brothers lost to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the final. For Paes, the victory completed his doubles collection of Grand Slam trophies.
This year, the Bryans are back in Melbourne looking to make amends for their final loss last year. And, of course, they’re in the hunt for that record 13th Grand Slam title, which would deliver a sixth overall Australian Open trophy.
“Last year, we ran into a tough team in Paes and Stepanek,” Mike said. “I think it was almost like their destiny because Paes needed that last Slam. They actually beat us a few times last year. But this is still our favorite Slam and I like our chances.”
For many players the grind of tour life starts to get old when you play for so long. But not for the Bryans, who still enjoy the whole experience. From here, they’ll head back to the United States and to Jacksonville, Fla., where they’ll play in the Davis Cup first round against Brazil.
“We’re getting ready for another loop-de-loop around the world – year 15 – and it’s still fun,” Bob said. “We create goals and new challenges each time we step out of the house in January. The goal is to finish No.1, that’s it, that’s what we play for.”
And in case you’re wondering, the Bryans aren’t planning on going away anytime soon. Their intention is to play through to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, which will be their fourth Olympic Games. They won their first Olympic gold at the London Games last year.
“That’s the long-term goal,” they both said in unison, with Mike continuing, “That’s where we see the finish line. We’ll be 38 and we’d like to, maybe, go out at that spot and, hopefully, finish with a medal.”
And as often happens with the Bryans, the other brother – that would be Bob in this case – finished the thought: “And sail off into the sunset. Or maybe just stay in Rio. Check into a motel on the beach and drink some margaritas.”