Bryans Win 14th Major
by Matt Fitzgerald|
It took 10 years, but Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan can once again call themselves champions at Roland Garros. The top seeds edged home favourites Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) in Saturday’s final to clinch their 14th major team title.
“It's great winning slams with your brother. We really wanted to win another [Roland Garros]. It's been ten years,” Mike Bryan said. “This is the first one we won back in the day and kind of launched our career. This is the toughest Slam to win, I think. Clay is an equaliser and makes a lot of teams better.”
The Bryans are the first team to win each Grand Slam title twice. They capped off an impressive clay-court season, which saw them capture three consecutive titles at the Mutua Madrid Open, Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome and the Paris major to run up a 14-match win streak.
In total, the American twins have won seven trophies in 2013, which included their sixth Australian Open crown. Their triumph in Melbourne enabled the Bryans to set the all-time record for most Grand Slam team titles. The two will now look to win a 'Golden Bryan Slam' at Wimbledon, having won the London 2012 Olympics and the US Open last year.
Llodra and Mahut were aiming to become the first French team to win the Roland Garros title since Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah achieved the feat in 1984. Llodra and Mahut had upset fifth seeds Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau and second seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez en route to the final. Mahut was contesting his first major final, while Llodra was appearing in his seventh (3-4).
“It's not finished until the end and you have to fight until the last ball,” said Llodra. “Today we were close to losing the match two sets to love and we fought until the end. We got chances, but not enough to [beat] the Bryans today.”
In the opening game, Llodra saved five break points on his serve, erasing four of them with an ace. But the Bryans stayed patient and on the left-hander’s next service game, they broke for a 3-2 lead when Llodra’s volley sailed long. The Bryans went on to close the first set out to love, sealing it in 40 minutes.
The French pair looked to grab the momentum early in the second set. Creating break point for the first time, Llodra ripped a crosscourt forehand winner into the open court to put the home duo ahead 2-0. But in the subsequent game, Mike Bryan unleashed a backhand-down-the-line return winner to get back on serve.
At 4-3, Mahut was stretched out wide and went crashing into a barrier, dropping his racquet, but he and Llodra managed to win the point. With the home duo leading 5-4, 30/30, Mahut hit his best overhead of the match to reach set point. Llodra followed it up by splitting the Bryans at net with a well-struck forehand winner to force a third set.
Llodra and Mahut maintained their level of play with big serving and solid returning. Leading 4-3, the Frenchmen created the first break point of the set when Mahut crushed a backhand return winner against Mike Bryan’s serve. But they were unable to capitalise and it ignited a run of routine service games, bringing the clash to a decisive tie-break.
With the crowd much more involved, Mahut put the home pair ahead 4-2 by blocking a volley for a winner. But two unforced errors, a shanked backhand by Llodra and pushed volley off Mahut’s racquet proved to be costly, as the Bryans ran off the final five points to claim the hard-fought win in two hours and 15 minutes.
“The crowd was just keeping them kind of pumped up, which made it a little bit tougher,” said Bob Bryan. “It felt like a Davis Cup match in a lot of ways. Just proud of the way we kind of stayed with it and always kept believing all the way.”
In 2003, the Bryans picked up their first piece of major hardware when they topped Paul Haarhuis and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the Roland Garros final. They improved to 2-3 in title match appearances at the event, having finished runner-up in 2005-06 and 2012.