The legacy of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan isn’t just about their record-breaking achievements on the court; of their much-loved chest-bumping celebrations and energy, but it is also how they helped further popularise and promote the sport to new audiences in the 21st century.
In announcing their retirements today, tennis has lost two of its greatest ambassadors. Professional and personable, the Bryans did everything with a smile: whether you were a fan looking for an autograph or photo; a reporter with a late interview request, a wide-eyed youngster attending an ATP Tour tournament for the first time, or a sponsor seeking a meet-and-greet. Through their on-court performances, their character and integrity, the Bryans ensured everyone’s tournament experience was memorable.
It was an ethos instilled into the Californian twins by their tennis-loving father, Wayne, who, throughout their legendary careers conducted clinics and pro-ams to rusty racquets or first-timers across the globe. From their very first professional tournament at the 1995 US Open, when, as 17-year-olds, they were mistaken by opponents for ball kids and not initially given accreditation badges, to 119 titles and 1,108 match wins later, the Bryans promoted doubles as a fun, social pursuit that taught key life skills. It was never about draws or prize money, but about doing their best at every tournament they played.
Appearing on the scene when another set of American brothers, Luke Jensen and Murphy Jensen, were entertaining fans with their brand of ‘grunge’ tennis, the Bryan twins took high-tempo, high-intensity tennis to new levels in the new millennia. Intrinsically, through their numerous achievements: 16 Grand Slams, 39 ATP Masters 1000s, four Nitto ATP Finals, 438 weeks at No. 1, the 2012 Olympic gold medal and 2007 Davis Cup triumph, the Bryans have influenced every professional doubles player of the past 20 years — and millions of amateur hackers globally. How many amateur club lefties now play on the Deuce court, mimic Bob’s athleticism or Mike’s net skills?
MOST DOUBLES TEAM MATCH WINS IN OPEN ERA
Team / Match Wins (Winning %) / Titles)
1) Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan 1,108-359 (.755) 119
2) Todd Woodbridge / Mark Woodforde 508-137 (.787) 61
3) Mark Knowles / Daniel Nestor 464-179 (.722) 40
4) Sergio Casal / Emilio Sanchez 448-215 (.676) 44
5) Robert Lutz / Stan Smith 380-138 (.691) 37
BRYANS MATCH WINS MILESTONES
Match Win No. / Tournament (Round)
No. 1 – 1996 Atlanta 1R d. Mark Keil / Dave Randall 76 76
No. 100 – 2002 Scottsdale 1R d. Felix Mantilla / Albert Portas 61 64
No. 200 – 2004 Sydney SF d. Yves Allegro / Rainer Schuettler 52 ret.
No. 300 – 2005 Washington F d. Wayne Black / Kevin Ullyett 64 62
No. 400 – 2007 Houston 1R d. James Auckland / Stephen Huss 62 62
No. 500 – 2008 Wimbledon 3R d. Frantisek Cermak / Jordan Kerr 64 64 62
No. 600 – 2010 Delray Beach SF d. Taylor Dent / Ryan Harrison 67(6) 75 10-4
No. 700 – 2011 Montreal 2R d. Feliciano Lopez / Fernando Verdasco 63 76(3)
No. 800 – 2013 Houston SF d. Johan Brunstrom / Jesse Levine 63 64
No. 900 – 2014 Shanghai 2R d. Lukasz Kubot / Robert Lindstedt 63 76(1)
No. 1,000 – 2016 Vienna QF d. Pablo Cuevas / Viktor Troicki 64 46 10-7
No. 1,100 – 2019 Cincinnati 1R d. Jeremy Chardy / Fabrice Martin 76(4) 36 10-7
No. 1,108 – 2020 Davis Cup Qualifier 1R d. Sanjar Fayziev / Denis Istomin 63 64
Fifteen years ago, when the ATP went in search of new audiences, and a better way of packaging doubles to appeal to more fans and television audiences, the Bryans — among other leading teams — were key to the introduction of the new doubles scoring system in 2006 and proponents of a grander vision for the team discipline.
Doubles is now watched by fans on stadium show courts far more than when the Bryans started their careers. It has extended the careers of players, who would normally have retired in their early 30s, and, importantly, the system of two sets to six (tie-break at 6-6), no-Ad games and a Match Tie-break (first to 10 points, win by two), has filtered down to club tennis across the world. Meaning, more than ever, amateur players have a link to the pros, and the pressure of not getting off to a good start in a Match Tie-break! It’s no surprise that the Bryans were presented the ATPTour.com Fans’ Favourite award on (another record) 14 occasions.
As flag bearers, universally known for their prowess since they first ascended to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings on 8 September 2003, the Bryans helped to develop team professionalism and the general level of play. Their 10 year-end No. 1 finishes as a team (2003, 2005-07, 2009-2014), mainly in partnership with their long-time coach David Macpherson, would never have been possible if they hadn’t evolved and forced their rivals to work harder year-on-year. There was no easing into a match against the Bryans, they intimidated with their energy and their astonishing achievements kept doubles in the spotlight. Because of their sustained excellence, the Bryans ran up all their titles in spite of playing with a target on their chests for the majority of their careers.
Father Time waits for no one, but in a season when the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc globally, there was some hope that the 42-year-old Bryans may reconsider their decision at the end of 2019, to lay down their racquets at the 2020 US Open. Today, though, they sign off on their own terms with records — number of Grand Slam titles, Masters 1000 titles and year-end No. 1 finishes — that may stand the test of time. Like other legendary teams of the past: John Newcombe and Tony Roche, Peter Fleming and John McEnroe, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, they are in a very special pantheon.
Bryan Brothers By The Numbers
15,110 ATP points collected during the 2013 season
1108 match wins
439 weeks at No. 1
178 ATP Finals
119 ATP titles
61 ‘Big Titles’ (Grand Slams, Nitto ATP Finals, ATP Masters 1000s)
39 Masters 1000 titles
30 Grand Slam finals
25 Davis Cup wins
20 consecutive years winning an ATP Tour title
16 Grand Slam titles
15 consecutive years making a Grand Slam final
14 time ATP Fan Favorite Doubles Team
10 years as year-end No. 1
10 consecutive years winning at least one Grand Slam title
7 consecutive Grand Slam finals
6 Masters 1000s titles in one season (2014)
4 consecutive Grand Slam titles
2 Olympic medals
1 Career Golden Masters
1 Davis Cup title
1 Olympic gold medal
FEATURES TO ALSO READ
A Winning Combination (November 2011)
100 Team Titles, A Remarkable Achievement (September 2014)
Bryans Complete Career Golden Masters (October 2014)
Bryan Brothers Clinch 1,100th Match Win (August 2019)