|Bob and Mike Bryan celebrate after defeating Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain in the men's doubles final match at the 2014 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 7, 2014 in Queens, New York.
NEW YORK -- On what was one of thousands, perhaps millions of chest bumps in their career, Bob and Mike Bryan missed rather badly Sunday at the US Open. But it didn’t matter, they were Grand Slam champions once again – and with it – members of a club no one else is part of: they have 100 career titles together.
“Yeah, it was a miscommunicated chest bump,” Mike Bryan said after the match, unable to wipe the smile off his face. “I went for it; Bob didn't lift off.”
“It gets ugly sometimes,” Bob chimed in.
But beautiful – not ugly – is the way one could describe what the Bryans have done. Their sixth US Open crown as a pair marks a record 16th Grand Slam together and the century mark in ATP World Tour doubles titles (that’s 100 total, if you lost track). Their first pro tournament came way back in 2001 at an indoor event in Memphis, Tennessee. Among those wins is an Olympic gold medal from the 2012 Games in London.
“It’s amazing relief, you know, ecstasy,” said Mike. “You know, I was having flashbacks to my whole career towards the end of that match. It was wild. I was thinking (about) juniors (and) college. I was trying to stay in the moment, but it was impossible. I mean, this number right here, we have really been looking at for a couple of years.”
It was a year ago that the Bryan brothers came into the US Open having won all three majors in the calendar leading up, making the headlines scream of a possible calendar-year Slam, the rarest of rarities in tennis.
They lost in the semifinals, however, unable to win another Grand Slam until Sunday, when they beat the Spanish pair of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3, 6-4, a team that had beaten them the last time they met at the French Open this spring.
They first won a tournament together at age 6, something they remember as clearly as their Olympic gold, or their first pro trophy in Memphis.
“Lake Lindero (California),” Bob said, not missing a beat.
“1985, novice tournament,” Mike added. “Met in the finals of the singles and won the doubles. Took home four trophies. I think we might have slept with that trophy, too.”
The twins, now 36, have a stranglehold on the world No. 1 ranking, their 100th victory further etching their names into the record books. No team has won as many Grand Slams – 16 – as the California natives, either.
“It's always sweet winning a Grand Slam. This just adds some extra whip cream and cherries and nuts on top,” Bob said. “To win a slam for the 10th consecutive year, that was kind of in the back of our heads, too. I mean, it was just great. We went out there and played a good match. We do get nervous. I think it was something like our 27th Grand Slam final. It feels like it was our first.”
But, does that chest bump – the one the brothers have made famous but clearly missed in celebration on Sunday – need some retuning?
“I don't think we have ever done this kind of dirty dancing swan dive,” Bob said, laughing. “That was a first.”
“[One time] we both went in for the hug in the air. That doesn't work out,” Mike said, recalling another golden moment. “You never know. I mean, that just was a great feeling winning that match point today.”
“It feels great to be recognized and to achieve something great in a sport you have dedicated your life to,” Mike added with a final reflection. “We have sacrificed everything … and we got everything. [My family] puts a smile on my face every day. I think that also made it easier to play well in this incredible, huge moment knowing I already had that in my back pocket.”
Nick McCarvel is a freelance writer based in New York. He has covered all four of tennis' Grand Slams as well as the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. McCarvel is a freelance writer for TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.