Published March 03, 2012
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Bob Bryan recently became a father, twin brother Mike is engaged, and the pair are almost old enough for the senior tour. Tennis does have a clock, and the sport's most successful doubles team concedes time is running short to win an Olympic gold medal.
Bryan-Bryan are ranked No. 1 and plan to compete in the games for a third time this year in London. They were shut out in Athens, then took the bronze four years ago in Beijing, and they're grateful for another chance.
Mike turns 34 next month, while Bob is two minutes younger, and they said it's unlikely they'll make it to the 2016 Games in Brazil.
"We can't plan on playing Rio," Bob said.
"That's a long way off," Mike said. "We'll be 38. Bob will probably have three kids by then."
Their personal lives have changed dramatically in recent months. Mike plans to marry in November, and he became a first-time uncle in January when Bob and his wife had a daughter, Micaela.
As a result, tennis no longer means everything.
"In our 20s, nothing would come between our career," Bob said. "We wouldn't change our schedule to fly home to see our girlfriend.
"That doesn't mean we still don't hate to lose. We still don't sleep for three days after a loss. But having a baby and Mike being engaged has put stuff in perspective. It feels like you're working out here for a bigger team."
The brothers were long inseparable, but Bob now lives in Miami, while Mike splits his time between California and Tampa, Fla. Mike even had a different partner — Mardy Fish — for the U.S. Davis Cup team's victory over Switzerland three weeks ago, because Bob was with his wife and newborn daughter.
Mike flew cross-country to hold his niece 24 hours after she was born. And Team Bryan was reunited on the court this week at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, the twins' first event together since they lost the final at the Australian Open in January.
Chest-bumping to celebrate their success, the brothers have won 76 titles and more than 700 matches together, both records, and have finished the season ranked No. 1 a record seven times over the past nine years. They've swept the Grand Slams and won 11 major titles, including the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year.
They haven't won the Olympics, however, despite being top-seeded in both 2004 and 2008. At Athens they lost in the quarterfinals to Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu of Chile, an upset that left the Bryans so angry they went directly to the airport to fly home.
They found the defeat in Beijing easier to accept. Beaten in the semifinals by Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, the Bryans edged Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement of France the next day for the bronze.
"We were really happy to get the bronze," Mike said. "One of the happiest moments of our careers was winning that match 24 hours after we lost. Standing on the podium with the other medalists was a thrill, and flying back from China was a great time — we had the medal around our necks."
As a result of that result, the Bryans said, their frame of mind going into the Olympics will be much different than four years ago.
"It takes a lot of pressure off us, knowing we have that medal in the trophy case," Bob said. "We'll have the same kind of enthusiasm, but there won't be that same kind of burn that we don't have a medal. We'd obviously love to get the gold, but winning the bronze took away a lot of the bitterness."
Olympic tennis will be played this year at Wimbledon, three weeks after the Grand Slam event concludes there. The doubles competition will likely be more fierce than at any other tournament, because top singles players often enter Olympic doubles too, as Federer did four years ago.
"You get a lot of cool teams," Bob said. "You're going to see the Murray brothers playing together, Federer-Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal is going to be in there. It's going to be a stacked draw and exciting for the fans. And playing at Wimbledon is going to add that much more magic to the situation. Every time we step on Centre Court at Wimbledon, we get goose bumps."
The goose bumps, they hope, will be followed by lots of chest bumps.