Experience Prevails: Bryan Brothers Capture 37th Masters 1000 Title
Experience and style prevailed over power and youth on Saturday in the Miami Open presented by Itau doubles final. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, playing in their 172nd doubles title match as a team, beat Russians Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-4.
“I'm really proud of the way we're playing, how we've turned it around from a fairly rough last year,” Bob Bryan said. “We're building every week. I feel like we're gaining momentum, and I'm very optimistic going into the clay-court season. And I think we're playing with a lot of joy now, and it's showing in our results.”
The 39-year-old Bryan twins captured their fifth Miami title, their 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and their 115th tour-level championship as a team. It's their biggest title since 2016 Rome and their first tour-level crown since 2017 Atlanta.
“These are the ones you want to win. If you can win these, you'll be at the top of the [ATP] Rankings at the end of the year. We came into the year, we had some goals of winning Masters , maybe mix in a few Slams. But all the greatest teams in the world we're in this tournament, and you have to win five matches. These are harder to win, because there's no byes. So to beat five really good teams, some of the best teams in the world, it feels really good,” Mike Bryan said.
Khachanov, 21, and Rublev, 20, were playing in their first doubles final as a team. “Congrats to these guys. You guys were in diapers when we turned pro,” Mike Bryan said to the Russians, who both competed in singles during the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. “So experience got you guys today, but when you guys grow up, you're going to be rough.”
Khachanov and Rublev both remembered times when they were younger and watched the Bryans on television. “When we were 10 years old, we were watching them play. They were one of the best, they were winning everything. And now, still, they are one of the best, and I can say that they are in good shape,” Khachanov said. “We really enjoyed playing against you guys. Well done, well deserved.”
Rublev also complimented the Bryans, who will turn 40 on 29 April. “It's a big honour and a pleasure to play with the best doubles players in history, and to have a great fight, and I think people enjoyed the match,” Rublev said. “They are the best. That's it.”
The Americans had to work for first title of the season. Early on, it looked as if the Russians had enough force and fearlessness to knock off the Bryans, who were playing in a Masters 1000 final on home soil for the second time this month (Indian Wells, l. to Isner/Sock).
Khachanov/Rublev broke in the opening game when Rublev smashed a forehand into the open court, and on their third set point, another forehand, this one from Khachanov, gave them a one-set lead.
The Russians were content to tee off from the baseline, whereas the Bryans tried to smother the net and make the Russians hit past them – or through them.
“We just tried to make them play, tried to get into some more points. Then they actually played human there at the end, which was nice. But we were just trying to throw everything at them, using all of our experience and doubles prowess to beat them and luckily, it worked,” Mike Bryan said.
In the second set, the teams traded breaks until Mike Bryan closed out the tie-break with a well-placed first serve down the T. During the Match Tie-break, five first serves and the crowd, with chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”, carried the Bryans to victory, their first title in nine months.
“These two youngsters are going to be brutal in a couple of years,” Bob Bryan said. “We love coming to Miami, we look forward to coming back hopefully next year –”
“Ten more years!” Rublev interjected during the trophy ceremony.
Bob Bryan agreed, “Ten more years, yes.”