Bryans win French Open doubles title in tiebreaker
PARIS (AP)—Ten years ago, Bob and Mike Bryan were still desperate to win a Grand Slam title and were sleeping on the floor of their bargain hotel room. Their lives changed for good when they won their first major championship in 2003 at the French Open.
On Saturday, the top-ranked American twins extended their record by clinching their 14th Grand Slam trophy, defeating Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut of France 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) in the men's doubles final at Roland Garros.
"This is the first one we won back in the day and kind of launched our career," Mike said. "This is the toughest Slam to win, I think. Clay is an equalizer and makes a lot of teams better."
The Bryans still remember the time when they were living on the cheap in Paris, trying to save money.
"It was just kind of a creepy roach motel," Bob said.
Added Mike: "The beds were horrendous. We put everything on the floor."
They didn't have much luck either when they went to a nearby restaurant for a meal.
"I think we lost like 10 pounds each because the food was so bad," Bob said. "We were getting so skinny and losing power on our shots. We had nothing left."
Now the Bryans are each married and sleep in comfortable rooms costing nearly $1,000 a night.
When they won the Australian Open this year, they broke a tie for most major doubles titles with Australian greats John Newcombe and Tony Roche.
"We're still feeling great," Mike said. "I think 35, I'd probably say right now we're at the peak of our career. Not slowing down yet."
In the tiebreaker, the Bryans rallied from a 4-2 deficit to clinch the victory when Mahut sent a forehand wide. Bob fell to his knees before sharing a hug with Mike, while Mahut broke down in tears on his chair.
"They are a very strong team and they showed it again today," Llodra said on the court.
The Bryans celebrated their title in 2003 by partying until the wee hours.
"We were all just grooving, eating our food, and just rocking to the beat," Bob said. "We can't absorb those hard nights anymore. We'll probably go back... pack up, take a shower."
The Bryans lost in the French Open final in 2005, 2006 and 2012.
They overcame a partisan crowd chanting "Allez les Bleus" to encourage Llodra and Mahut, who were playing only their second Grand Slam tournament together. Their lack of understanding on the court sometimes showed as Llodra shouted ''yours'' or ''mine'' to his partner.
"The crowd was just keeping them kind of pumped up, which made it a little bit tougher," Bob said. "Felt like a Davis Cup match in a lot of ways."
Llodra and Mahut were bidding to become the first Frenchmen to win the doubles at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte in 1984.
During a heated rally at 3-3 in the second set, Mike Bryan fired a smash into Mahut's left calf. Mike apologized but the crowd still booed him as Mahut wobbled for a few seconds. Mahut had his leg treated with a spray during the changeover at 5-4 and then at 2-1 in the third.
Mahut created the only break point of the final set with a backhand return winner at 4-3. But the French team failed to convert it as Llodra sent a forehand return into the net.