By Chris Oddo / Thursday, September 5, 2013
Mike and Bob Bryan have cornered the market on Grand Slam doubles records of late, but the one they wanted so badly to achieve in 2013 has eluded them. The 15-time Grand Slam champions (yes, most all-time) fell today against the inspired Indo-Czech duo of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and with it their hopes to become the first men's doubles team to win all four Grand Slams in a calendar year since 1951 faded to dust.
Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek ended Mike and Bob Bryan's shot at the calendar-year Grand Slam on Day 11.
Photo Source: AP
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“I mean, as competitors we hate to lose, and we knew what was riding on this match and the opportunity of what we could have accomplished,” Bob Bryan told reporters after the match.
The Bryans appeared to be in control early, but a run of brilliant play by 40-year-old Leander Paes and a marked improvement from Radek Stepanek led to the Bryans' eventual demise in the third set. They fell behind a double break, and though they managed to break Paes when he served for the match at 5-2 and then held to force Stepanek to serve for the match, their comeback attempt fell short in the end.
The Bryans had won 28 consecutive matches in Grand Slams, not losing since Wimbledon in 2012. After that loss the Bryans won Olympic gold last summer, then proceeded to take the next four Grand Slams. In spite of all their success, not being able to close the calendar year Grand Slam in front of the home crowd in New York stung the 35-year-old twins.
“Today all that kind luck that's been on our side went against us,” Bob Bryan said. “Those guys played a great match, and, you know, we wish them luck in the finals.”
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Winning all those matches and watching the expectations ramp up with each win did take its toll on the Bryans, and there was a sense of relief to go with the disappointment after the match. “It's been in the back of our mind, you know, the whole way,” Mike Bryan said. “I think once we got out there you try to put it aside. But you win a set and then you're saying, 'Okay, you're three sets away from a Grand Slam.' Every point just becomes a little bit bigger, every moment. You know, it makes it a little tougher, I think.”
But the relief was outweighed by a sense of loss. The calendar-year Grand Slam, last achieved by Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor in 1951, may never be duplicated again. “Realistically it will probably never happen,” Mike said. “The margins are just so fine in doubles. There are just too many great teams out there and too much can go wrong, and a lot has to go right to be in that position. So we gave it everything we had.”
Paes and Stepanek will bid for their second doubles Grand Slam title as a team, while Paes will bid for his seventh doubles title overall.