Bob Bryan and Mike Byran have dominated the men’s doubles game for the better part of the past decade, and compiled arguably their best year to date by winning three of the four Grand Slams and reaching the finals of the fourth. While their careers may not be in jeopardy, they have expressed concern over the lack of up-and-coming teams, budding talent and star power on the tour.
“It’s in the back of our heads,” Mike said. “Where does it go from here once we’re done?
It’s thin because doubles is a game you need years and years to get comfortable and find a partner you can stick with for a long time.You’re not going to see any hotshot 20 year olds being a good doubles player because they don’t play enough in the juniors. It’s tough to break in.”
Apart from the lack of talent, the brothers also mentioned their disappointment in the ATP’s lack of promotion for doubles competition on their website.
“Obviously the ATP can do a better job,” Bob said, who believes doubles needs a commissioner. “We need a guy we can go talk to, that fights for doubles rights at all times.”
While the ATP World Tour Finals did not end the way Bob and Mike Bryan would have hoped, the brothers did finish the season atop the ATP rankings. They admit that their main focus has been on their careers and not on the political side of tennis.
“We’re so focused on our career and playing we haven’t had the chance to get into the political side of the game and do a lot for doubles behind the scenes,” acknowledged Bob. “That might be something we can do when we retire.”
A few years ago, in an attempt to fit more doubles matches on television, a decision was taken to substitute third sets with super tiebreaks. While this decision was supposed to be a positive step for doubles tennis, the brothers admit that this has not been the case.
“Over time it’s been pushed to the backburner,” said Bob. “The whole thing about the shortened format was to get more doubles matches on center courts, but they’re slowly starting to put less doubles matches out there.”
As they now hold the record for the most career titles on the tour (93) and 16 Grand Slam titles, the Bryans admit that their main focus in 2014 will be their families and personal lives.
“And then,” laughed Mike, “go for another calendar year slam.”