Bob and Mike Bryan won their 10th men’s doubles Grand Slam title together, producing a straight sets masterclass against the reformed partnership of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes in the Australian Open 2011 final.
The ‘Indian Express,’ as the two have been dubbed, reunited after nine years apart with one aim – to win the Australian Open, and complete their career doubles Grand Slam.
But it was their bad luck to face the Bryan twins for the first time in 10 years, the world’s most successful men’s doubles pairing, not only the current world No.1s, but with the added impetus of chasing their fifth Australian Open title.
The twins started impeccably, immediately breaking to lead 4-2 in the first set, and maintain their lead to take the first set 6-3 after just under half an hour.
Louis Cayer, one of the world’s doubles experts, teaches the mantra that if you serve 73% of first serves or higher in men’s doubles, you will win the match. And so it proved, the Bryans getting an astonishing 87% of their first serves in, and facing just three break points. The Indians, by comparison, achieved just 50% of their first serves. The numbers do not lie.
The second set was marginally tighter, as Bhupathi and Paes rediscovered more of the tennis that had propelled them into the final, but there was little they could do to dent the Bryans’ armour, improving their serving to 69%, but still far below the twins’ 81%.
With the Americans serving for the title, there was a brief glimmer of a way back in for Bhupathi and Paes, as they yielded their only break point of the set, but it was too little, too late, and the Bryans converted their first championship point after just an hour and eight minutes.
“First of all I’d like to congratulate Mike and Bob, there’s a reason these guys are the best team in the world, they did everything perfect tonight,” said Bhupathi.
“I just want to say a word about these guys, it’s great to see them playing again after 10 years,” said Mike Bryan. “They’re the Indian Express, it’s great to have you guys back”.
“We had to play our best tonight, probably the best match we’ve played in a long time,” said Bob Bryan. “Thanks again guys, we’ll see you again next year.”
The Bryan twins are the most successful Australian Open men’s doubles champions in the Open Era, having surpassed their own record of four titles together. The previous Open Era record for a team other than the Bryans was two Australian Open doubles titles. John Bromwich and Adrian Quist hold the record for all-time men’s doubles titles in Australia, winning eight titles between 1938 and 1950.