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Double Impact

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Mike & Bob Bryan© Getty ImagesMike and Bob Bryan have done a whole lot of winning this season, boasting a perfect 11-0 mark in finals.

Sixty-seven team titles, 200 weeks at No. 1 and an unbreakable bond – no wonder the Bryan brothers are always doing the chest-bump.

What with all that chest-bumping, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan must have some pretty sore ribs. Together they’ve now won a grand total of 67 doubles titles on the ATP World Tour, more than any other doubles team in history. And how do they celebrate each victory? With a trademark chest-bump, of course.

Defending champions here at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the Bryans are without doubt the most close-knit of all the doubles teams on the tour. Not surprising, really, since they are identical twins. As another doubles specialist once observed: “You could have been playing doubles your whole life and you’d still have been together nine months less than Mike and Bob.”

It’s a watertight bond that has helped them to stunning success on the tennis court. Their 67 titles together include nine Grand Slams. Altogether they’ve won over 650 tour-level matches and have been ranked the World No. 1 doubles team for more than 200 weeks.

“We know we’re never going to split up, so there’s more security and we’re tighter.”

It’s thanks to their parents that the two brothers compete so well together. Growing up in California, they were forbidden from playing singles against each other in tournaments. “We met in the finals of hundreds of tournaments growing up,” Mike says. “We couldn’t play the final match, so we’d default and take both the winner’s and runner’s-up trophies home. My parents didn’t want us to become enemies and competitors.”

Bob says doubles victories always felt better than individual singles wins. “If one of us won at singles then the other would be pissed or jealous,” he adds. “It was a lot easier if we could just win a doubles tournament together.” Nowadays, the only time they face one another on the court is in mixed doubles.

Even prize money is shared, all of it going into the same bank account. And their main off-court activity, playing in a soft rock band (the Bryan Bros Band) is a joint effort too. Last year they released their first EP, featuring Bob on bass guitar, Mike on drums, and fellow Californian David Baron on piano, acoustic guitar and vocals.

BryansLiving out of each other’s pockets off the court reinforces the strength of the twins’ relationship on the court. It’s a massive advantage they have over other doubles teams. “A lot of teams stay at different houses, they do their own thing, maybe they don’t know where they stand on different issues,” Bob explains. “If they have a few bad weeks then they’re going to split apart. We know we’re never going to split up, so there’s more security and we’re tighter.”

Watching them here at The O2, you’ll immediately notice how they attack the ball and cover the court in almost perfect harmony. You may, however, struggle to tell them apart. Bob is one inch taller, left-handed and, as his brother says, “slightly chubbier”. He covers the advantage court. Mike, on the deuce court, is right-handed, 10lbs lighter and, despite being two minutes older, a good inch shorter. “I had to stay in an incubator for a couple of weeks after I was born,” he says. “I think Bob had me in a head-lock in the womb.”   

Story reproduced with permission from the official Barclays ATP World Tour Finals tournament program. Order your copy online: http://merchandise.theo2.co.uk/

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