Bryans tie record with 11th grand slam title

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Bob and Mike Bryan’s quest for a second Wimbledon men’s doubles title went far beyond just chasing records, pocketing prize money and lifting trophies.

The pursuit had a much deeper meaning for the Camarillo identical twins.

They wanted to win for their 90-year-old grandfather Carl Bryan, who is battling cancer and underwent surgery earlier in the week to remove a tumor.

The top-seeded Bryans provided their best dose of medicine on Saturday as they defeated No. 8 Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the final on Centre Court at the All England Club.

The 33-year-old Bryans tied Australian’s Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde for most career Grand Slam doubles titles in the Open era with 11.

“This title was dedicated to our grandfather,” Bob said. “He has been one of our biggest fans since we first picked up a racket, and has supported us through everything. This was the least we could do for him considering what he is going through.”

Making their fifth Wimbledon final appearance, the Bryans finally emerged victorious for a second time on grass to add to their burgeoning Grand Slam resume.

The Bryans have won five Australian Open titles, three U.S. Open titles, two Wimbledon titles and one French Open title. They won their first Wimbledon title in 2006.

“This is a Wimbledon title. This is as special as it gets,” Mike said. “I always thought we’d play our best at Wimbledon and we’ve lost three heartbreaking finals. To get on that board again, to have two Wimbledon titles, is really special. And then to equal the Woodies, a team we idolized and the greatest team in our mind, is unbelievable.”

The Bryans had an arduous path to the reach the final. The top-ranked doubles team in the world survived two five-set marathon matches and several weather delays at the outset.

But performing in front of a near sellout crowd and national television audience following the women’s singles final, the Bryans played nearly flawless tennis in the title clincher.

The Bryans got early breaks in each of the first two sets and remained in control throughout.

They were pushed to a tiebreak in the third set, but quickly forged ahead with a mini-break and secured the title when Lindstedt, who played at Pepperdine, dumped a forehand into the net.

Instead of celebrating with their traditional Bryan brothers bump, the brothers opted for a big hug near the net.

The Bryans had no unforced errors, no double faults and never faced a break point on their serve to deny Lindstedt and Tecau their first Grand Slam title in their second straight Wimbledon final appearance.

“It was an early break in the first two sets, so we got off out of the blocks pretty quick,” Mike said. “We’re a good front-running team, so that gives us a lot of confidence. From yesterday (a five-set semifinal win), we didn’t have our legs. We knew we had to finish it off in three or four.”

The Bryans have four grandparents who are all in their 90s, and their unwavering loyalty keeps the brothers pushing for more wins.

“We feel like in some certain way, we’re keeping them going with our tennis,” Bob said. “My grandma has marked off every point we ever played in our whole career, which is wild. She’s got a thick stack of yellow note pads. So they’re following it closely. Whatever we can do to keep them happy, give them a little joy, we want to do.”

The Bryans have displayed the familial longevity on the court in an extremely successful doubles career that shows no signs of slowing down.

They broke the Woodies record of career doubles titles in Los Angeles with win No. 62 last summer, and have extended it to 73 with the Wimbledon title.

“We’re still committed to our tennis, and we’re working as hard as ever,” Bob said. “I’m married. We’re still all traveling together. He’s got his girl with him 52 weeks out of the year. We’re in the same house right now. We’re all getting along great, which is good. … It’s not going to change for a while. We’re going to be in this meat grinder for another four or five years.”

The Bryans, who earned $400,000 for the Wimbledon title, will be returning to the United States to prepare for the U.S. Davis Cup match against Spain July 8-10 in Austin, Texas.

They will have their first chance to break the Woodies’ Grand Slam record when they defend their title at the U.S. Open Aug. 29-Sept. 11.

“We’d love to try and get to 12 and do that at the Open,” Mike said. “But those guys have been really gracious. They’re the first to come up to us and congratulate us. We weren’t even thinking about 11 until Mark Woodforde came up and said, ‘Congrats on getting that 11th.'”

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