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Reflex Volley Inspires Bryans To "One Of Our Toughest Wins"

London, England

Bryans© Getty ImagesBob Bryan (right) hits a two-handed backhand volley reflex shot in Saturday's Roland Garros final.

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan are mightily relieved.

Happy that after 10 years of trying, they have a second Roland Garros trophy to add to their 2003 vintage.

“It was a big focus for the year to win our second Roland Garros,” Bob Bryan told ATPWorldTour.com at the Aegon Championships in London. “We have wanted to finish our career with multiple titles at each Slam.”

On Saturday, the American twins beat Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) in the final. It was their 14th major crown. 

Mike Bryan admitted, “It was a relief. We have always felt that we are a great clay-court team. We felt weird we didn’t have another title there, having finished runner-up three times in the past 10 years.”

Of course, it could have been a very different story.

“I felt like we were in the driver’s seat for the first half of the match,” said Bob. “Then it switched, the momentum really switched when they held serve around 3-3 [in the second set]. We had two break points. We could have closed it out right then, but they held and then broke me. 

“We were really scraping to hold serve in the third, while they were holding serve easily.”

At 2-4 in the tie-break, the French championship looked to be drifting away yet again from the Bryans.

Somehow, Bob, inches from the net, managed to get back a double-handed backhand volley. “It was a reflex volley,” said left-hander Bob. “I mis-hit it, but it was a reflex. I scooped it over the net.

“My Dad always says, ‘Never hit a ball with two hands.’ But sometimes you have to!”

Llodra crossed to hit a backhand pass. His stroke landed long.

Bryans“You hit it good,” admitted Mike. “I think it might have had spin on it. If they had gone 5-2 up, with Mahut serving then the match was probably over. That was a slight momentum shift there. We kind of caught fire at the end.”

Bob confessed, “Once your back is against the wall you kind of relax a little bit more, as you sense the inevitable. I think I said, ‘Let’s just relax’ at the end.”

Does that mean Bob became the leader of the team?

Far from it.

“There is no one leader,” said Mike, revealing a secret of their success. “If there is a guy playing better than the other, he doesn’t try to be the leader. Because that is not good! You don’t want to feel that your brother is carrying you.” 

Bob adds, “As twins, you see your twin as an equal. You don’t want to feel like you are dominating. When one of us starts to talk and bosses the other around, that is a negative for us. 

“It is better in big moments, when we don’t say too much.”

That is why the 2013 Roland Garros title match will always rank as one of their sweetest wins.

“This was one of our toughest wins for a major title,” said Mike. “Also, there was the 2006 Australian Open final against Leander Paes and Martin Damm. I think in the third set, I might have been down five break points and then Bob was down break point and I had to play a no-look up-the-line half volley. 

“Those two were our biggest battles.”

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