Battle-tested Bryans a step closer

LONDON -- Maybe it was just a coincidence, but Thursday was a good day for the American doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan at Wimbledon.

On the Fourth of July, the No. 1 seed advanced to the final of this tournament with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over the No. 14 team of Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

They converted their fifth match point when Bopanna couldn't handle Bob's into-the-body serve. The packed house on Court No. 1 rose to its feet after the sun finally came out on this 2-hour, 48-minute match and gave the Bryans a sustained ovation. The brothers did what they usually do after a big win: They charged at each other, went aloft and exuberantly crashed into each other's chest.

Now the Bryans are on the verge of making some remarkable history. In Saturday's final, they'll meet the No. 12 team of Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, who beat No. 4 Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in a five-set match that went nearly three hours. It will be their first Grand Slam doubles final, and Mike Bryan called them a "fairy tale" team.

A win for Bob and Mike, however, would make them the first team of the Open era, which goes back to 1968, to simultaneously hold all four Grand Slam trophies. Throw in their gold medals from the London Olympics and you have the most dominant run in the modern history of the sport.

"I don't know what you want to call it," Mike said. "I've been hearing the Bryan Slam. Now you call this the Golden Slam. It's pretty cool.

"Definitely a great opportunity to do something a team's never done before, I don't think. Yeah, we're just going to go out there and have fun. There's not a huge amount of pressure. We're going to try to go out and win the Wimbledon title, which we've done before.

"Yeah, we'll be tough to beat if we play well."

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Australian doubles team of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman. Well before the dawn of the Open era, they won seven straight major titles, from the 1951 Australian Open to Wimbledon in 1952.

Jacco Eltingh was the last man to win three straight major doubles titles. He won the 1998 Australian Open with Jonas Bjorkman then the French Open and Wimbledon with Paul Haarhuis.

The Bryans lost their first five-set match at the All England Club, to Sebastien Lareau and Alex O'Brien; they've now won the past eight.

"Ten-eight in the fifth," said Bob, citing that only fifth-set failure that occurred some 14 years ago. "I remember that. That's the second win in the tournament where we've had this type of battle. Now we're kind of battle-tested."

This is the Bryans' sixth final here. They took the title in 2006 and 2011.

How dominant have they been so far? They have held serve in 87 of 90 games.

Throughout the tournament, the Bryan's modus operandi has been to hang close and suddenly turn on the jets late. Their previous four sets were all successful tiebreakers, and six of their past eight required seven games to win.

Thus, it was something of a surprise when the Bryans found themselves trailing 5-4 in the tiebreaker with Bopanna serving. They dropped their first set of the fortnight when his ace caught about one-quarter of an inch of the line down the middle.

In retrospect, that was the only moment of serious drama.

The best fireworks on this side of the pond Thursday? That chest bump from the Bryans. It came on the 20th anniversary of Jim Courier and Pete Sampras' all-American singles final, which produced the first of Sampras' seven Wimbledon titles.

"These types of records and achievements, there's a lot of 'em," said Bob. "They're always out there. You know, this one's extra cool."


More than 10 million Brits watched Andy Murray vanquish Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday. The BBC reported that nearly half of the televisions in the British Isles were tuned in at 7:10 p.m. (local time) when Murray closed out the match. … Taylor Townsend, the No. 5-seeded American, is into the semifinals of the junior girls' tournament after her 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over No. 4 Barbora Krejcikova. … American Jamie Loeb fell in the quarters to No. 1 junior girls' seed Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-3. … Stefan Kozlov was the final boy from the United States to check out of the junior tournament. He lost in the quarters to No. 5 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.